A PIONEERING £22.5 million recycling plant which turns waste food into fuel has opened in Widnes, creating 35 jobs.

Re-Food anaerobic digestion plant in Desoto Road on the West Bank Dock estate is the UK’s largest gas-to-grid development of its kind.

It took around 12 months to build.

It will recycle 120,000 tonnes of commercial and domestic food waste and liquids, generating up to 180 million KWh of biomethane every year.

This fuel will be transported directly to the National Grid, providing power for 10,000 homes.

Halton’s deputy Mayor, Clr Ellen Cargill joined dignitaries at an opening ceremony on Wednesday, June 18.

Norbert Rethman, honorary chairman of parent company, the Rethmann Group, unveiled a plaque and tipped the first bin.

Andy Smith, chief executive of parent company Saria, said:”As our first gas-to-grid AD plant it will operate as a showcase plant for both the Re-Food brand adn also the AD industry in both the UK and Europe.

“Food waste offers such important potential as a resource, that we must maximise this through the use of new innovative technologies.

“As the north west is an important hub for both food production and distribution, Widnes is the perfect location.”

The plant offers integrated food waste collection and recycling services for businesses within a 50 mile radius.

A sanitised bin swap service is being offered to hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, local authorities and retailers. They can have their full bins replaced with a clean one.

Widnes is the first of the company’s 11 plants which together will provide enough power for 46,000 homes.