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France: Turning cheese into electricity


Turning waste into value—the recycler's dream—has taken on a new form as French dairy farmers have found new uses for the residue of cheesemaking, including powering the plant the does the recycling.

An article in describes the process. The pilot project, in Savoie, in eastern France starts with the production of Beaufort cheese, which takes 10 liters of milk to produce 1kg of cheese, and leaves behind nine liters of whey, which up to now has sold at a loss.

In the new scheme, the whey is processed to produce butter, protein powder or ricotta cheese; that process leaves behind sugar water and other residues. Valbio, an engineering company, has built a plant that turns 99% of those residues into biogas, enough to produce electricity for 1500 people.

In terms of new jobs, eliminating waste and providing relatively clean power, the project may outdo the alchemists who merely wanted to turn lead into gold, not cheese into power!


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