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Frequent Questions: Anaerobic Digestion Facilities Processing Food Waste in the United States in 2015: Survey Results

Frequent Questions: Anaerobic Digestion Facilities Processing Food Waste in the United States in 2015

Why did EPA collect this data?

There is little publicly available information about the number, location, and operational characteristics of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities that accept food waste in the United States. EPA recognized that better data was njavascript:void(0);eeded to support efforts to divert organic wastes from landfills.

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Who will use the information in the report?

EPA anticipates the report will be useful to many stakeholders engaged in efforts to reduce food loss and waste.  These could include: state, local and tribal governments, non-profits interested in diverting food waste from landfills, the biogas industry, renewable energy and wastewater treatment researchers, universities, and more.

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Does the data presented in the report reflect the entire universe of anaerobic digestion facilities in the United States?

This data collection only covers operational AD facilities that accept food waste as a feedstock. However, there are many AD facilities that process only manure or wastewater solids, and they are excluded from this data collection. Additionally, it is unlikely that EPA has identified all AD facilities in the U.S. that accept food waste, and not all AD facilities that process food waste responded to the EPA survey.  

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Is any of the data estimated or projected?

The data in this report is a summary of information reported in survey responses. Projecting or predicting volumes processed at non-reporting facilities was not within the scope of this project. Food waste capacity and food waste processed that was reported in gallons was converted to tons to quantify the total capacity available for processing food waste. EPA converted the data from gallons per year to tons per year because tons is the industry standard for measuring food waste.   

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Does EPA provide operational data about individual facilities in this report?

No. The collected data has been aggregated so that operational data from individual facilities cannot be ascertained. 

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What does EPA plan to do with the data in this report?

EPA has approval to collect data for a period of three years. EPA will continue to collect data for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018, to provide the public with information about:

  • Changes in the number of operational AD facilities in the U.S. over time, including processing capacity, food waste and non-food waste processed, and biogas production;
  • Trends in feedstock sources and types of feedstocks processed as data from subsequent years becomes available;
  • Efforts to decrease landfilling and increase beneficial uses of AD digestate and biogas; and,
  • Pre-processing/de-packaging activities, operational specifications, and gas cleaning systems.

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Does this report cover all the biogas that is produced at Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs)?

No. Only the 80 WRRFs that currently co-digest food waste are covered in this report. However, there are more than 1,200 WRRFs that have digesters and produce biogas in the U.S. Documenting the biogas produced in all 1,200 WRRF digesters was beyond the scope of this project.

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Where can I find more information about each digester type identified in this report?

See EPA’s AD Website – Types of Digesters for basic information about the different types of digesters and their characteristics.

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When will data from additional years become available?

EPA will collect data for calendar year 2016 during the calendar year 2018. We anticipate the report containing these data to be released in early 2019.

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