NY food waste plant celebrates recycling milestone

Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority in Utica, New York, has recovered 11.5 million pounds (approximately 5,750 tons) of food waste since its launch in 2019.

The $3.4 million (€2.7 million) Food2Energy facility opened in May 2019 and recovers food waste, which makes up 22% of all municipal solid waste sent to landfill, furthering the region’s goal to conserve landfill space, energy, and natural resources.

Business, organisations, schools and residents may deliver food waste to the authority’s Food2Energy facility for a reduced disposal fee. Because the authority has invested in a depackager, the waste can be delivered in boxes, bags and original containers, with no requirement to remove packaging.

Once the food waste is depackaged, grey water is added to the mix and the waste is emulsified into a slurry. This is then delivered to the Oneida County Water Pollution Control Plant’s anaerobic digesters to create electricity utilised by the plant, offsetting their energy demand.

“The amount of food waste – 11.5 million pounds – that we have been able to recover through Food2Energy since our opening is a testament to the organisations, schools and residents in our region that consistently prioritise recycling and waste reduction,” said Samantha Brown, the authority’s recycling coordinator.

“We are excited to continue to work with local organisations to prevent even more food waste from being wasted in the future.”

In April 2019, New York State (NYS) passed legislation requiring large generators of food waste – producing at least 2 tons per week – to divert the material from regional landfills through waste reduction, donation, or delivery to a certified AD or composting facility. The new mandate will take effect on 1 January next year.

“Food2Energy is viable with or without legislation and is a project that the authority has had in the works for several years. When the mandate is implemented, we have the infrastructure ready and can provide generators who fall under the NYS mandate with a cost-effective and efficient option.”

In addition to its environmental benefits, the facility provides an economic incentive for large food waste generators. The tipping fee for waste in Oneida and Herkimer Counties is currently $62 (€50) per ton; the tipping fee for source separated organics is $40 (€32) per ton.

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