US EPA allocates $2m to 11 food waste AD projects

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allocated $2 million (€1.84 million) to 11 organisations to divert food waste from landfills by expanding nationwide anaerobic digestion (AD) capacity.

The EPA is ensuring nearly half the funds will be given to projects or recipients located in underserved communities. Specifically, the Agency considered the effects of this initiative on people of colour, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations, and other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and children.

“Anaerobic digestion is an important way to ensure essential nutrients are recirculated into our ecosystems,” said Carlton Waterhouse, deputy assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management.

“This kind of innovation helps communities reduce food waste that could end up in landfills while capturing methane for use, instead of having it go into the atmosphere.”

Each chosen organisation will receive around $150,000-200,000 (€138,000-184,000) over two years. The selected projects are:

  • District of Columbia Department of Public Works – Washington D.C.: Plans to establish a training and certification programme for commercial food waste generators that will equip participants to set up successful source-separated organics programmes to divert food waste to anaerobic digesters for processing;

  • Food Lifeline, Seattle, Washington: Plans to develop an AD demonstration project that introduces the community of South Park to alternative energy production through hands-on, culturally and linguistically relevant engagement and education opportunities;

  • Georgia Southern University, Research and Services Foundation - Statesboro, Georgia: Plans to conduct a feasibility study to advance the understanding of how AD capacity at pulp and paper mills can be leveraged for the treatment of food waste from university campuses;

  • Monterey One Water - Monterey County, California: Plans to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the conversion of existing anaerobic digesters at its wastewater treatment facility to co-digest sewage sludge and other organic wastes diverted from the area;

  • Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association – Boston, Massachusetts: Plans to develop environmental justice engagement and regulatory compliance guidance and training to support states seeking to increase food waste diversion rates through AD utilisation;

  • Ohio University – Athens County, Ohio: Plans to study and quantify the potential for diversion at microbrewery brewpub businesses and demonstrate an AD model system scaled for that sector;

  • San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition – Mosca, Colorado: Plans to install a high-efficiency AD system to process food and organic waste that will demonstrate the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of such a project in Colorado’s rural, high-alpine San Luis Valley region;

  • University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa: Plans to conduct a project that will use computational modelling to demonstrate optimum conditions for biogas production while minimising digester issues;

  • University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus – Catano, Puerto Rico: Plans to conduct a project to empower and educate the local community in utilising AD for organic material management through a seminar series and small pilot facility to demonstrate benefits;

  • University of Vermont – Burlington, Vermont: Plans to perform a study to assess current capacity at digesters to accept food wastes; the potential impacts of food waste on biogas production, and the potential impacts of co-digestion on nutrients and microplastics in digestate;

  • Yurok Tribe – Klamath, California: Plans to establish an AD pilot demonstration project to divert the food waste generated on and near the Yurok Indian Reservation, beginning with a local elementary school.

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