P.E.I. potato plant brings biogas facility online

Potato processor Cavendish Farms has officially begun using its potato wastes as feedstock to power its facility northeast of Summerside, P.E.I.

Cavendish, one of North America’s major frozen french fry and potato product manufacturers, on Friday unveiled its biogas facility, using an anaerobic digestion process to convert decomposed potato waste to energy.

“This is the first facility in the potato industry to take solid potato waste and convert it into usable energy,” Cavendish president Robert Irving said in a release Friday.

The Cavendish biogas plant also marks “the single biggest reduction in greenhouse gases on the Island,” the company said.

Specifically, the biogas plant is expected to help achieve a 30-35 per cent reduction in the overall carbon footprint of the company’s potato processing plants; a reduced dependence on fossil fuel used to power the boilers in the processing plants (about 10 million litres per year); fewer trucks required to bring fuel to the plant; and no need for trucks to remove potato waste from the plant, thus reducing the trucking requirements of the processing plants by 1,450 km per day.

And the biogas plant’s byproduct is the creation of an “organic, natural fertilizer that can be used on fields in place of potato waste.”

“This technology helps Cavendish Farms continue with our focus of a sustainable processing mindset,” Irving said. “It creates less dependence on fossil fuels through an efficient, controlled cycle by capturing potato processing by-product and converting it into energy, all on one site.”

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions alone is expected to be 35 kilotonnes, which represents a reduction of 30-35 per cent for the Cavendish Farms operation and is equivalent to taking 7,300 cars off the road for a year, the company said.

The company, a member of New Brunswick’s Irving Group, said it first began discussing such a facility in 2004 and began hard planning and development in 2006, led by the Irving Engineering Team.

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