Food Scraps to Green Energy

Oct 10

♪♪ Most people know about putting bottles and cans to a higher use by recycling. But what about all those food scraps sent to the landfills every year? Food scraps disposed in landfills create methane, a greenhouse gas, and contribute to climate change. Instead tossing them in the trash, we can convert food scraps to energy. In Oakland California, the East Bay Municipal Utility District – or East Bay MUD – uses an innovative technique to collect the methane from food waste. A grant from EPA helped them to advance this technology, which made East Bay MUD the first wastewater treatment plant in the country to convert post-consumer food waste to energy using anaerobic digesters. Don Gray (Gabb), Senior Civil Engineer, East Bay MUD] There isn't a lot of experience doing this. In fact, no where else in the country is anyone doing this. The process begins when local restaurants separate food waste for disposal. At the East Bay MUD’s wastewater treatment plant, waste is broken down in large containers called anaerobic digesters. When you add food waste to a digester, the bacteria inside can decompose the food. The digester captures the biogas. The methane from biogas then powers the treatment plant. The food material remaining after the digestion process can be composted and used as a soil amendment to help grow your food. This anaerobic digestion process uses waste as a valuable commodity. It mitigates climate change from methane, and creates both energy and valuable soil amendments. Don Gray (Gabb), Senior Civil Engineer, East Bay MUD This partnership with EBMUD and EPA Region 9 has not only benefitted our customers, but has also opened the door for food waste to be brought into any wastewater treatment plant anywhere in the country. Whoever thought that one day your food scraps could one day be powering your lights? ♪♪

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