#FoodWaste as Energy

As a young teenager, I harassed my local council to bring recycling to my apartment and knocked on every door in the building (with the super’s permission) to tell everyone about how they could help to reduce waste going to landfill. Although I now know that the reduction of (food) waste is more critical than the management of waste, I am excited about the growing trend towards anaerobic digestion (AD).

The city of New York has approved a plan to convert organic waste and wastewater into biogas.  Originally reported in the NY Daily News, the Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced plans to transport food waste from public schools and 100,000 homes to Brooklyn where they will be mixed with wastewater and converted into methane, the central component to natural gas. At a press conference announcing the project, Deputy Mayor  Holloway said:

This is the ultimate renewable energy resource. This first-of-its kind renewable energy project will harness part of the 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater that New Yorkers generate every day.

Currently the pilot program collects waste from 200 schools, with plane to expand to 400 schools.  Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty told the New York Daily News:

Earlier we would just bury the waste. With composting and food waste management we have something new here. A project like this will help protect the environment for our grandchildren.

This type of waste management is nothing new in the UK. According to a presentations at the November 2013, “Cut Waste, Grow Profit” food industry forum in Mississauga ON, converting food waste into energy as well as a form of fertilizer via AD is already in place and a profitable venture for the UK’s major grocery chains. If you want to learn more about AD, check out wrap.org.uk which has tons of wonderful information.

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