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Green Power Partnership

Converting Food Waste to Energy


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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
1-2 pm (EST)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership

On Wednesday, August 17, the Green Power Partnership will host a webinar examining the anaerobic digestion of food waste to generate renewable energy.

Food waste is one of the most important materials to divert from landfills because as food decomposes it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In 2009, food waste was the largest category of municipal solid waste disposed, with more than 33 million tons of food waste sent to landfills. If half of the food waste generated each year was anaerobically digested, the amount of electricity generated could power over 2.8 million average American homes for a year.

Anaerobic digestion can be done at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), dairy digesters, or dedicated digesters for the organic portion of municipal solid waste. Anaerobic digestion produces two main products, biogas and a soil amendment. Biogas can be used for electricity generation, as a natural gas substitute, or for vehicle fueling.

This webinar will explore how food scraps can be diverted from landfills and used to generate renewable energy. The webinar will review the environmental impacts associated with food waste disposal, the anaerobic digestion process, food waste collection programs, biogas usage for energy, available EPA resources and tools, and the opportunities and hurdles associated with expanding the anaerobic digestion of food scraps. It will also highlight a unique partnership between the City of West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue University whereby food scraps from the university's cafeteria are sent to the city's WWTP to be used as an energy source.

Speakers included:

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