Agreement to generate renewable energy from food waste

Date published: 27 September 2017

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Granville Ecopark Ltd (GECO) have signed a Prosperity Agreement pledging to work together to divert more food waste from landfill and use it to generate renewable energy and organic fertilisers.

From left to right: Ian Harvey, Managing Director of GECO and David Small, CEO of NIEA at the signing of the Prosperity Agreement.

GECO has developed an enhanced anaerobic digestion facility near Dungannon with the potential to save the carbon equivalent of removing nearly 60,000 cars from the road each year. This represents a line of cars which if placed end to end would stretch from Belfast Docks to Belfast International Airport.

They use food waste (both packaged and unpackaged) from local businesses and domestic customers to produce electricity from high quality biogas, which in the future can also be used as a vehicle fuel.

Under the Prosperity Agreement GECO will expand its processing capacity, bringing new engines on line and exploring new potential sources of feedstock. They will also seek to enhance the by-products of the process through innovation and trialling new technology. 

For their part of the agreement, NIEA will work with the company on strategic outcomes and to streamline bureaucracy.

At the signing event David Small, CEO of NIEA said: “The Prosperity Agreement Programme goes from strength to strength, with Granville Ecopark representing an important addition to the portfolio. 

“NIEA is excited to partner with progressive companies who share our goals in ensuring effective environmental protection alongside economic success.”

The agreement contains six commitments, including innovative solutions to maximise energy production from the process. It also explores opportunities for collecting more food waste from other sources and working with stakeholders and the community to deliver environmental initiatives, for example, around biodiversity and waste education.

Ian Harvey, Managing Director of GECO said: “We are delighted to be signing this agreement which serves to reinforce our company’s commitment to delivering positive environmental outcomes. We have invested significantly in state of the art technology to maximise the production of gas and energy from food waste while also focusing on adding value from all products from our process, and hope we can be seen as a model for a successful business, which delivers both commercial and environmental benefits.”

This is the sixth such agreement the NIEA has signed. Prosperity Agreements are voluntary agreements, signed between NIEA and a company or organisation. They contain commitments from both NIEA and the company which will deliver significant environmental benefits, going beyond legal requirements to develop a more strategic approach between business and regulator and to help businesses realise environmental gains which will increase their competiveness.

The agreement does not remove any legal environmental obligations on the business and NIEA will still take any appropriate enforcement action, if it is required, to ensure regulatory compliance and protect the environment.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is an Agency within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with approximately 450 staff. The Agency is part of the wider Environment Marine and Fisheries Group (EMFG) in DAERA.  The NIEA leads in advising on, and in implementing, the Government's environmental policy and strategy in Northern Ireland. Divisions within the NIEA undertake a range of activities that promote the Government's key themes of sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change.

2. Granville Ecopark Ltd operates an anaerobic digestor plant at Granville Industrial estate, Dungannon.  

3. Anaerobic Digestion is an established technology which uses heat and natural processes to breakdown food waste to generate gas and an organic by-product (digestate). The gas is then burned in an engine to produce electricity or can be tankered off site to fuel engines at other locations.  The digestate can be in liquid and solid forms and is used as fertiliser and soil conditioner.

4. Every action in the prosperity agreement is voluntary and will improve both environmental and economic outcomes. Granville Ecopark will ensure they not only meet the environmental standards required, but go beyond them. In partnership with NIEA, they have committed to:

  • Seek innovative solutions to maximise energy production from food waste
  • Explore opportunities for innovation and trials of new technologies to deliver stronger economic and environmental outcomes.
  • Review the waste collection network and seek to influence local collection arrangements
  • Work with Stakeholders to assess how they can protect and enhance biodiversity
  • Engage with local community and stakeholders
  • Maintain and report on the Prosperity Agreement commitments

5. This agreement is the sixth such agreement signed. The existing agreements are with Linden Foods/Linergy (August 2014), Lafarge Cement Ireland (March 2015), John Thompson and Sons (July 2015), Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. (Feb 2016) AES UK and Ireland Ltd (June 2017). NIEA is continuing to work with progressive organisations to explore the possibilities that a Prosperity Agreement could bring. For more information please contact or go to the DAERA website

6. Average UK car emissions are 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per year and the average family car length 4.5 meters

7. Follow us on Twitter at @daera_ni

8. For media enquiries about this press release, please contact or 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

Share this page

Back to top