RESIDENTS across Monmouthshire are now able to use plastic bags to dispose of their food waste, Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) has advised.

The news comes as MCC begins to send food waste to an anaerobic digestion plant near Bridgend.

All bags are separated from food waste at the start of the digestion process, and then sent to a different plant for energy recovery.

Compostable food bags will still be available from MCC’s One Stop Shops and community hubs, but residents are also being encouraged to re-use their old plastic bags – such as bread bags, frozen food bags, and cereal bags.

The anaerobic digestion plant, located between Bridgend and Porthcawl, processes food waste to create methane, which is then burned to generate electricity.

As part of the process, a fertilizer is also produced, which is used on local farms.

Bagged food waste enters a machine, where the bags – both compostable and plastic – are ripped apart and removed.

Later, they are transported to another site where they are incinerated to produce electricity.

A spokeswoman for Agrivert said the anaerobic digestion plant created enough renewable electricity to power 5,900 homes around the clock, and had the equivalent greenhouse gas effect as taking 100,000 cars off the road.

MCC’s cabinet member for waste and recycling, Cllr Bryan Jones, said: “Monmouthshire’s food waste was previously sent for ‘in vessel composting’ where our corn starch food waste bags could be fully composted as part of the process.

“The new anaerobic digestion process can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, nuclear power, and imported energy – as well as offering a more environmentally-friendly way of disposing of any unwanted plastic bags.

“Anaerobic digestion is the preferred option of the Welsh government and we are working closely with our neighbouring authorities to deal with food waste.

“We hope this enables more residents to recycle their food waste easily and provides another use for bags which for some people would end up as rubbish.”

When the change to anaerobic digestion was proposed, supporters said the move would save £33,000 annually and could increase food waste recycling, but critics said the plan was at odds with MCC’s aspirations of becoming a “plastic-free” county.