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San Francisco EPA Employee Nominated For Prestigious National Award Following Efforts to Turn Bay Area Food Waste into Energy

Release Date: 05/15/2009
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270,

(SAN FRANCISCO 5/15/2009) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee and Bay Area resident Cara Peck has been nominated for the celebrated 2009 Service to America Medal by the Partnership for Public Service. Peck is a life scientist in EPA’s San Francisco office – she is one of three EPA employees who have been nominated for the prestigious award.

    "I'm proud that among the many agencies and public servants across the country, our EPA team members are being recognized for their exceptional service and dedication,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is a well-deserved honor for individuals who work so hard to improve the lives of the American people.”

    Cara Peck was recognized for helping urban areas improve food waste processing, promote new efficiencies and use refuse as a source of renewable energy. Peck worked in partnership with the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) to spearhead an effort to reuse food waste that would normally end up in landfills.

    The initiative was the first high-volume post-consumer food waste anaerobic digestion project in the United States. The project captures the energy potential of food waste and the remaining solids can be further processed into compost, which can be put back into the soil to replenish and grow crops. The project generates renewable energy, a valuable compost material, and economic savings. With about 30 million tons of food waste discarded into landfills each year, this is an innovative and broadly applicable approach that can be carried out at most wastewater treatment facilities in the country.

    Anaerobic Digestion - Fast Facts for California:
    Many communities in California have Zero Waste goals. The state of California also has tough waste diversion goals.
    Anaerobic digestion breaks down the food waste, producing biogas which can be used as an energy source. The volume of the food waste is reduced, creating a byproduct that can be further processed at a composting facility. The digesters also capture methane, a potent greenhouse gas that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere.
    Anaerobic digesters currently exist at many wastewater treatment facilities, making it possible to capture and process food waste in a dense, urban area without building new infrastructure.

    The Service to America Medal pays tribute to the best in the federal workforce and inspires a new generation to join in service. The medals honor federal employees who have shown a strong commitment to public service and have made significant contribution in their field of government that is innovative, high-impact and critical for the nation.

    The winners of the 2009 Awards will be announced and honored at the Partnership’s Awards Ceremony on September 23 in Washington, D.C. More information on the Service to America Medals: