A FIRM turning food waste into energy at an £8m North-East factory has secured a deal to process leftovers from more than 200 schools in the region.

Emerald Biogas, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is working with catering specialists Taylor Shaw.

Bosses say John Warren ABP, which collects waste for its Emerald Biogas subsidiary, will take food from more than 20,000 children.

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Emerald already works with retailers Marks and Spencer and Lidl, as well as North-East baker Greggs, SK Chilled Foods, which has bases in Middlesbrough and Wynyard, near Stockton, and Greencore, which has a plant in Consett, County Durham.

Its anaerobic digestion plant can convert 50,000 tonnes of discarded food into heat, power and fertiliser every year, which is used to help power about 2,000 homes.

It is the region's first commercial food waste factory, separating food from packaging to create electricity for the National Grid.

Antony Warren, John Warren ABP director, said: “Although everything is done to help reduce the amount of food waste produced in schools, inevitably there will be some leftovers, which can’t be used in any other way.

“The partnership with Taylor Shaw will mean instead of the waste being landfilled, it can be used in a much more environmentally-friendly way.”