St Benedict’s School in Ealing is working with the local council to collect food waste at lunchtimes

Environmental issues are high on the agenda at St Benedict’s School in Ealing. Last year the school achieved the Bronze Award from Eco Schools, an international award programme designed to help children and staff take responsibility for their school environment.

St Benedict’s is now aiming for the Silver Award and since October the school has been working with Ealing Council to collect food waste at lunchtimes. Rather than going to a landfill, where the food would decay and produce methane, it is now taken to the Biogen Greenfinch Anaerobic Digester in Bedfordshire. Here, the gases are used to generate electricity for 3,600 homes and produce a high-quality fertiliser.

At the end of last term the St Benedict’s Eco Council, consisting of 12 pupils, accompanied by two teachers and also members of Ealing Council, were one of the first school groups to visit the Biogen plant. It proved to be both a fascinating and an informative day. The plant processes approximately 8,000 tonnes of food waste a month. Around 10 per cent of all the waste they receive is teabags. In Britain, households throw away about 8.3 million tonnes of food a year. If it were all treated by Anaerobic Digestion the result would be equivalent to taking 25 per cent of the cars off our roads.

Kate Linton, the school’s environmental coordinator, has been successful in raising the profile of environmental issues at the school and she was keen to underline the importance of this visit.
“Our trip to Biogen was a fantastic opportunity for us all to appreciate what an important role Anaerobic Digesters play both environmentally and economically,” she said.

“Pupils were given a great learning experience outside of the normal classroom, which helped bring to life the importance of trying to make our school as sustainable as possible.”