Making the case for food waste co-digestion in the wastewater sector

In Virginia, US, the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation has awarded a contract to the Environmental Law Institute’s Food Waste Co-Digestion at Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities: Business Case Analysis project.

The project aims to develop alternative sustainable business cases for waste resource recovery facilities to co-digest food waste, including fats, oils and grease, food manufacturing residuals and source separated organics.

In the US, food waste is the biggest component of municipal solid waste entering landfills. According to a statement from WE&RF, co-digestion of food waste at water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) has multiple advantages when compared to independent anaerobic digestion facilities.  A previous WE&RF project with the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority indicated that co-digestion could be very beneficial to WRRFs, however adoption is limited due to factors such as the cost of digestion and solids processing, waste characteristics, and technology choice and operations.

The key objectives of the Environmental Law Institute project are to identify several sustainable business models focused on operational and environmental risk management and return on investment for co-digestion of food waste at WRRFs; and developing a report and short briefing documents on research findings to inform and stimulate adoption by the wastewater sector. 

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