Tag Archives: Aerobic Digestion

Supermarkets are significant contributors to the 34 million tons of food wasted each year.

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The disposal of food waste is a complicated and costly process. In addition, with cities and states passing legislation to restrict the amount of food waste being sent to landfills, facilities subject to these regulations need to quickly act on a solution that is cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and compliant.

In an effort to reduce waste sent to landfills and to limit the amount of harmful methane gasses emitted, many people turn to composting as an alternative. However, this is not the most viable solution for a few key reasons. Composting carries many challenges including rising costs, carbon emissions while transporting waste, on-site storage logistics, labor and the inability to accurately measure waste.

There are two alternative food waste diversion technologies that are becoming popular in the marketplace, aerobic and anaerobic digesters. These solutions help to eliminate the negative environmental factors and are smart investments for companies that produce large amounts of food waste.

Aerobic digesters have been developed to eliminate food waste on-site at its point of generation. They accelerate the natural decomposition of food waste converting it to nutrient-neutral water that is transported safely through standard sewer lines. Many aerobic digesters run using a continual process, enabling waste to be added as needed with nothing left to haul away. This is currently the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option in the marketplace.

What makes aerobic digesters a more efficient alternative is that they minimize the logistical effort needed to dispose of the waste. The next step is to incorporate real-time quantification and transparency of food waste volumes. For example, some on-site aerobic digesters provide users the ability to determine where and when waste is produced rather than relying on assumptions. Data is crucial in reducing food waste and managing efficient operations.

Other parts of the world are capitalizing on the positive impact of anaerobic digesters which break down waste and convert it into an energy rich biogas. A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is using its food waste to cut off completely from the grid powering the supermarket’s lighting and refrigerators without the need for fossil fuels.

While anaerobic digestion is a forward thinking option, it is scarce in the United States because it is an expensive undertaking. However, I do foresee this becoming more widespread as the U.S. has a strong desire to achieve energy independence. Food waste companies need to continue to evolve their technology in order be able to provide customers with an effective means of generating anaerobic digester feedstock without losing the on-site nature and data analytics of aerobic digesters. We are currently piloting projects with leading anaerobic digestion companies to offer consumers a viable food waste management program that will provide the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic digestion.

Compost Cincy Shut Down and Locked Out

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It will cost the city of Cincinnati an estimated $300,000 to clean up a composting site they shut down earlier this year due to odor complaints.

Compost Cincy rented an old landfill site from the city to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to landfills, but after numerous odor complaints, the city shut them down and locked them out because of odor problems.

The idea of the first centrally located composting facility in Cincinnati started out as a win-win for businesses, the city and the environment. Large commercial companies could send their waste to the old landfill site where Compost Cincy would break it down and sell it. But demand for composting proved to be much bigger than they anticipated.

Compost Cincy designed their operation for about 20,000 tons a year, at their peak they were receiving a rate more like 80,000 tons a year.

All that decomposing waste became a smelly problem for industrial neighbors so the city opted not to renew the lease.

Compost Cincy blames the eviction on the city’s poor zoning policies. While they admits some odor may have made it off site after heavy rainfalls due to the amount of waste they are processing, they don’t believe that was reason enough for eviction.

Their website blames Americans and Municipalities for not wanting to deal with the few minor inconveniences of odors, rodents, truck traffic, groundwater contamination and decreased property value in order to “be green.” http://www.compostcincy.com/

Challenges and subsequent closures of commercial composting continue to exist throughout the US because of high demand, not enough infrastructure, inadequate regulatory structure, and persistent odors. It is good timing that alternative solutions, such as, on-site aerobic technology and anaerobic digestion are garnering interest and favor with towns and states. Those two solutions will soon replace these composting problems.

Navigating the Complexities of Food Waste

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As food waste represents more than 30 percent of the material disposed of in landfills today, haulers face increased demands for viable diversion options from consumers and the government, who are attempting to achieve sustainability and zero waste goals.

The diversion of food waste is a complex issue that has historically involved extensive logistics resulting in significant costs to waste haulers and in turn to their customers, the generators of food waste. The current disposal infrastructure in the U.S. typically requires the collection and transportation of food waste in traditional vehicles, resulting in significant costs being passed on to the generators as well as the unnecessary consumption of fossil fuels and associated harmful emissions. When analyzed correctly, these factors often negate the benefit of the diversion of the waste itself. As state and local regulatory agencies continue to implement bans on food waste in landfills, the lack of viable disposal options in proximity to the source of the waste will prove to be a barrier to ultimately achieve these goals. Fortunately, there are new technologies that provide the resources and tools necessary to offer consumers a means of compliance while presenting new opportunities in an industry that is in need of a solution.

In order for the consumer to comply with new regulations in a cost-effective manor, it is necessary to identify a solution that does not rely on traditional vehicles and manpower to collect and transport waste long distances to compost facilities or anaerobic digesters. In addition to the obvious economic and environmental challenges associated with traditional collection and disposal, the consumer is forced to sacrifice valuable kitchen or retail space for the on-site storage of food waste waiting to be collected, as well as the inability to quantify the results of their efforts. It is also virtually impossible to accurately measure each generator’s waste and provide the reporting that is needed to track diversion efforts and carbon reductions.

Real data is a key component to not only quantifying our diversion efforts, but more importantly to provide generators with the information needed to get to the root of the problem. It is important to examine not just how we dispose of this waste, but how much of it we actually create.

Over the past few years, several new technologies have emerged in the U.S. that make the disposal of food waste much less demanding, including on-site options, such as our Eco-Safe Aerobic Digester. Aerobic digesters accelerate the natural decomposition of food waste and convert it to nutrient-neutral water that is transported safely through standard sewer lines without any additional handling required. Some of these units run using a continual process, enabling waste to be added as needed with no chemicals used and no airborne contaminants present. The most logical, cost effective solution to this growing issue is to treat food waste at its point of generation. This would eliminate the need for increased logistics and provide the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly option in the marketplace today.

Digesters tend to work similarly to a human stomach. They are designed to process a wide range of food waste types, such as fruit, vegetables, cooked and uncooked meat and poultry, fish, dairy and bakery items. BioHitech America’s on-site aerobic digester can eliminate up to one ton of food waste in a 24-hour period.

In addition to being an effective tool used to decompose food waste, the Eco-Safe Digester serves as a powerful management tool, providing key metrics to users that can help indicate inefficiencies within an organization or quantify the benefits of reduced disposal and corresponding “truck rolls.” The digester is equipped with a scale that weighs food waste each time it is added to the unit, clearly determining where, when and what food waste is disposed of. Since the digester provides real data rather than relying on assumptions, management can identify opportunities for improvement in the process.

The BioHitech Cloud, a reliable, manageable and secure reporting platform for data that can be accessed on many types of devices, measures key metrics to optimize the waste disposal process. The reporting provides an accurate audit trail to support environmental directives that tracks savings, compares utilization, highlights successes and uncovers anomalies. Organizing and preparing reports is easy and can be designed for single or multiple locations, by geographical areas, by management structure or by season. Reports are also easy to access and can be created from several devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones.

Quantifying food waste data in real-time is paramount for industries to provide accurate, concise and useful analytics in order to facilitate zero-waste behavior within an organization. This information, along with a heightened consciousness about the alternatives to dumping food waste in landfills, will drive tremendous opportunities. According to the EPA, it is estimated that if we were to prevent food waste from either being created or disposed, it would be similar to removing a quarter of all cars in America from the road.

The increasing emphasis on food waste diversion will also continue to support the development of other disposal methods, such as anaerobic digestion, a growing means of disposal in the U.S. As in many parts of Europe, the U.S. will continue to strive to utilize organic waste as feedstock for energy production. One of the U.S.’s largest generators of food waste, Walt Disney World, has recently announced a switch from composting to using anaerobic digestion to not only remove its food waste but to help power the operation of its parks and resorts.

Anaerobic digesters can be capital intense and therefore will rely on significant tip fees to help subsidize the cost of construction and operation. While this can present a challenge in obtaining feedstock, it is likely that the larger obstacle will be the inability to site facilities within close proximity to large volumes of feedstock, leading to significant costs to collect and transport waste to its final destination. These costs along with the necessary tip fees imposed for disposal will be challenging to developers of these types of facilities and burdensome on the consumer.

In most cases, anaerobic digesters require food waste to be in some form of liquid or slurry, adding additional costs to support the process. At BioHitech America, we continue to evolve our technology to provide our customers with an effective means of generating anaerobic digestion feedstock without losing the on-site nature and data analytics of aerobic digesters. By pre-processing the waste at the point of generation, we are able to significantly reduce the volume of waste needing to be transported and providing the ability to perform said transportation with more efficient vehicles than traditional waste collection trucks. BioHitech has partnered with leading anaerobic digestion companies, including CRMC Dartmouth Bioenergy, an anaerobic digestion facility located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to pilot its technology as a pre-processing unit for CRMC’s recently constructed facility. This facility accepts commercial/industrial food wastes, organic sludges, FOG or other liquid or slurried non-hazardous organics. The Bioenergy Facility is the first of its kind to be sited at an operating Massachusetts landfill and the first developed in the state to produce biogas for use in a pre-existing landfill gas-to-energy facility.

As the evolution of the food waste industry progresses, on site solutions such as the Eco-Safe Digester and other similar products will become increasingly relevant to its success and paramount to other disposal methods such as anaerobic digestion and future technologies. Being more progressive and adopting new means of food waste disposal is no longer just a social responsibility; sustainable alternatives are becoming a mandatory requirement.

Kroger Sets A New Standard For Energy

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Every single day, enormous amounts of energy is converted by means of power plants, solar panels, wind turbines, and more, to generate enough electricity for our technologically dependent world. But there’s a new, unexpected player coming to the field. That player is FOOD WASTE.

How could food waste be used to generate energy? Every single day, businesses that are centered around foodstuffs end up throwing out a large majority of the food that they produce. In fact, over 40% of the food produced each year in the U.S. will end up being labeled as trash and is historically thrown to the side. With the fairly new processes of aerobic and anaerobic digestion, this food waste can become more useful than ever.

Kroger Supermarkets is one of the first companies to utilize the process of anaerobic digestion to convert their food waste into energy. Their newly-built Kroger Recovery System located in Compton California was created to harvest energy from day-old bread and too-ripe bananas to generate enough electricity to power more than 2,000 homes in California over a year’s time. Now, of course the machine does not solely rely on stale bread and rotten bananas, instead, the anaerobic digester will process over 55,000 tons of organic waste per year (or 300,000 pounds a day), collected from their stores generating the 13 million kilowatt-hours that will power Kroger’s Compton distribution center for a year.

Upon arrival, the food will be churned in a large grinder until it is completely pulverized. Then, this substance will be introduced to a pulping machine, where hot wastewater is added, creating a thick, mucky substance. After this, the sludge is pushed into a large tank and then into an oxygen-free silo. Here, in this 2-million-gallon anaerobic environment, the sludge will be eaten away by bacteria, converting it into methane gas, known as biogas. This biogas is then filtered out of the silo to three turbine engines, located at the facility.  The three turbines will then convert the biogas into usable energy, which is enough to offset the company’s energy demand by more than 20%.

The anaerobic process produces no pungent odors, as some may fear, and no methane is leaked out of the system and into the atmosphere. This system will also reduce area truck trips due to the fact that they no longer have to haul the 150 tons per day six times a day by diesel trucks traveling 500,000 miles a year to distant composting facilities.

Why anaerobic digestion? Kroger believes that this solution best addresses their business strategy – realizing the value of food waste.  Instead of sending all of the unwanted food on trucks to be dumped into landfills or to distant compost facilities, this solution is an easy and effective method for creating clean energy.  Building this facility to recycle their food waste also has the potential to save the company $110 million.

Amid high waste disposal costs and uncertain energy prices, anaerobic digesters have gained favor.  The success of this one highly-publicized facility shows promise that more facilities like this will be in our future.