Greening Potatoes at Cavendish Farms

By / Magazine / September 1st, 2009 / 1

Cavendish Farms, which produces frozen potato products, unveiled a critical new element in its environmental action plan, and a first for the potato industry in North America.

“We are proud to unveil our Bio-Gas Facility as an example of our corporate approach to researching, investing and implementing innovative new ways to create sustainable and environmentally friendly processing methodologies,” Robert Irving, President of Cavendish Farms said. “This is the first facility in the potato industry to take solid potato waste and convert it into usable energy.”

What sets the plant apart is that while most facilities treat waste water produced from processing, the Cavendish Bio-Gas Facility also takes the solid waste material from potato processing and, through anaerobic digestion, converts it into energy for the Cavendish processing plants. Anaerobic digestion is a natural process similar to composting. “It is a true win-win for Prince Edward Island,” Irving said.

“By taking a waste product and turning it into both energy and usable compost, Cavendish Farms is demonstrating a commitment to innovation, to energy efficiency and waste reduction,” said Richard Brown, Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry. “We’re encouraged to see Cavendish Farms exploring the possibilities of biofuels as an energy source. This kind of investment helps both the company and the environment of Prince Edward Island.”

The move to biofuels marks the single biggest reduction in greenhouse gases on the Island. The many environmental benefits the new plant will help achieve are:

• 30-35% reduction in the overall carbon footprint of the potato processing plants;

• a reduced dependence on fossil fuel used to power the boilers in the processing plants (about 10 million liters per year);

• fewer trucks required to bring fuel to the plant;

• eliminating the need for trucks to remove potato waste from the plant, which reducing the trucking requirements of the processing plants operation by 1450 KM per day;

• creating an organic, natural fertilizer that can be used on fields in place of potato waste.

The original idea for this facility was explored in 2004, with development beginning in earnest in 2006. The project was led by the Irving Engineering Team with support by Stantec Engineering from Fredericton and the German firm of Krieg & Fischer Engineering GmbH, an engineering company specializing in Bio-Gas plant design around the world. During construction, the plant generated approximately 81,500 person hours of work and utilized the goods and services of 23 Island companies. This is a great addition to an already beautiful island.

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