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18th May 2011


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IEMA members describe a site visit to Scotlands largest anaerobic digestion facility and a conference on creating the business case for sustainability, just two of IEMA's recent events.

IEMA’s events, conferences and workshops are typically driven by members for members. Through consultation with the membership, feedback from ongoing research projects and Regional Steering Group activity, IEMA is able to deliver a valuable programme of events that not only gives members the chance to network, but also to build their knowledge.

IEMA events are at the heart of member benefits and if you have never attended one, you may not be getting the most from your membership. Annually, the range of events varies in style, format, location, topic and size, so there is usually something for everyone. They are generally free to attend and bring together an interesting mix of members from diverse backgrounds, sectors, roles and levels of experience.

Here we feature two very different events organised by the Regional Steering Groups that took place in March of this year.

Deerdykes site visit

On 22 March, 20 IEMA members gathered at Deerdykes anaerobic digestion (AD) facility (see image above) in Cumbernauld to find out how AD transforms food waste into green energy.

The group learned that Deerdykes, a former wastewater treatment works owned by Scottish Water Horizons, became Scotland’s largest AD facility in 2010 at a cost of £7.5 million. Designed predominantly to recycle food waste, it is the first facility in the UK to combine AD and in-vessel composting technologies on the same site, increasing flexibility and capacity for waste handling.

The in-vessel composting diverts about 42,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill each year, with a further 30,000 tonnes diverted through AD annually. These figures are going a long way to achieving the Scottish government’s target of only 5% of all waste going to landfill by 2025.

During the tour of the site, the IEMA group were told that Scottish Water Horizons, through its environment division, accepts garden and food waste from household collections, as well as waste from food manufacturers and supermarkets.

This helps waste producers cut costs and improve their environmental credentials by diverting waste away from landfill and saving the environment from further methane emissions, which are up to 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

The process captures the energy produced during the natural breakdown of the waste and converts it into usable green electricity and heat through 2 x 500kW combined heat and power units. The AD process also creates a biofertiliser that can be used in agriculture as a natural alternative to chemical fertilisers.

The energy produced on-site is used back in the AD process, with excess electricity feeding back into the National Grid. The site is currently in the process of applying for Renewable Obligation Credits, and Scottish Water Horizons is also exploring uses for surplus heat.

The visit was highly interesting and informative. Many thanks to Donald McBrayne and Kristine Leitch from Scottish Water Horizons for facilitating the day.

Thank you to Claire Chapman for this review.

Business case for climate change and resource efficiency

Resource depletion and climate change are some of the biggest issues we face as environment practitioners. However, few IEMA members know how to secure the investment needed for our organisations to respond appropriately. IEMA’s East of England Steering Group decided to address this by organising a conference at Homerton College in Cambridge on 29 March.

Rob Hopkins (Transition Totnes and Transition Network) opened the event by explaining what the transition movement is doing globally to respond to climate change, peak oil and other vulnerabilities. He issued a challenge to the environment profession to use its skills to accelerate change in these areas.

Martyn Seal, PepsiCo Europe’s sustainability director, followed with a fascinating presentation entitled “Making the business case for sustainability”. He outlined the challenges PepsiCo currently faces and described how support from the top of the organisation helped make the business case for achieving the company’s sustainability vision.

Ali Claburn, founder of Liftshare.com, which connects people wishing to share journeys, gave an entertaining and inspiring account of the origins of his company and explained how the Liftshare model is evolving.

The rest of the day was dedicated to three practical workshops, during which delegates were invited to complete relevant parts of a business case template. The workshops titles included:

Allen Norris, group director of environment, health and safety at NSG Pilkington and chair of the IEMA Council, demonstrated his skill as a chairperson by ensuring that the conference completed its full agenda on time.

Thanks also go to the East of England Steering Group and IEMA’s regions team for arranging the day.

Thank you to Steve Marsden for this review.

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