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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Organics: Anaerobic Digestion

Why Focus on Food Scraps?
  • Food scraps account for 18% of waste currently reaching landfills in the United States.
  • Food scraps in landfills decompose to generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Food scraps are a valuable resource with potential to create renewable energy and to be used as a valuable soil amendment.
  • Using food scraps as a resource rather than disposing of them in a landfill reflects cradle-to-cradle, closed loop approach.

For more information on reducing food waste for businesses, visit EPA's website.

Reducing Food Waste

Long before we consider anaerobic digestion for wasted food, we try to ensure that less food is wasted.  EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working together to reduce wasted food through the Food Recovery Challenge and the Food Waste Challenge. 

Anaerobic digestion occurs at:

Anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down organic materials, such as food scraps, manure, and sewage sludge, in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas and a solid residual. Biogas, made primarily of methane and carbon dioxide, can be used as a source of energy similar to natural gas. The solid residual can be land applied or composted and used as a soil amendment. The benefits of anaerobic digestion include renewable energy generation, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and waste diversion.

Food Waste Anaerobic Digestion -
A Tool Kit for Getting Permission to Digest

Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) has created a tool kit to provide an overview of key permitting steps and regulatory requirements for anaerobic digesters processing wasted food. It includes:

  • Key Permitting Steps
  • Overview of the Current Regulatory Environment
  • List of Potential Impacts and Mitigations Measures
  • Lessons Learned Throughout the Permitting Process

While permitting and regulatory requirements differ by geographic location, site characteristics, and the size of the project, this provides general information about permitting and specific information about HWMA’s experience. The purpose is to help other cities and project developers move through the permitting process with more ease.

Co-Digestion Financial Analysis Tool – New tool to help assess initial economic feasibility assessment of food waste co-digestion at wastewater treatment plants for the purpose of biogas production.

Turning Food Scraps Into Energy- Learn more about how East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is co-digesting food scraps from restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area at their wastewater treatment plant to generate renewable energy.

Additional Resources

Dairy Manure Collaborative

Recycling and reducing solid waste to help address climate change

Composting yard waste and food scraps

 

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