Robert Gordon University helps Orkney Islands with waste disposal

A team at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are researching ways to address waste management challenges faced by the Orkney Islands and other remote and rural island communities.

Working with Strathendrick Biogas, researchers are running a feasibility study to identify the most appropriate Anaerobic Digester (AD) options for the Islands and make recommendations for an Anaerobic Digester strategy as part of an integrated waste system.

The Islands face major challenges in waste management due to their size and location and the environmental implications of exporting this waste for disposal elsewhere. All waste produced on Orkney is currently shipped off the island, which increases the island’s carbon emissions. If an AD plant could be situated on Orkney, it could reduce the carbon emissions created by shipping waste off-island, as well as providing heat, power, and gas to residents.

Anaerobic digester plants process largely organic waste material (biomass) like manure, crop residues, compost, food waste, paper and waste water from households, local businesses and the manufacturing sector into gas for heating and power. The study found there are sufficient feedstocks on Orkney all year round, including from distilleries, cattle herds and slurry, for localised or municipal AD plants.

The project outcomes and recommendations will be proposed to Orkney Islands Council,  wider Orkney stakeholder groups, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.