Bioconversion in the Netherlands

Compost

About half of the vegetable, garden and fruit (VGF) waste in the Netherlands is collected separately. One tonne of VGF waste produces about 400 kilograms of compost. Compost is beneficial for the environment. It fixes CO2 in the soil, adds nutrients to the soil naturally and stimulates crop growth. Most of the compost produced in the Netherlands is used in agriculture and horticulture.

Biogas

Energy recovery from VGF waste is a rapidly expanding market. The process used is anaerobic digestion. This produces biogas (methane), most of which is delivered to the natural gas mains. Moreover, once this energy has been recovered, the residue can be used again to make compost – energy recovery and material recycling go hand in hand.

One tonne of VGF waste produces about 100 Nm3 of biogas. This can also be burned in a combined heat and power unit to produce 200 kWh of electricity (enough to power 8,000 25 watt light bulbs for one hour) and 850 MJ of heat. Most of the electricity generated by CHP units in the Netherlands is delivered to the national grid. The heat is supplied to various end users, such as greenhouse horticulture and swimming pools.

As the number of anaerobic digesters in the Netherlands is rising rapidly, this technology is making a growing contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions.