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A New Partnership Aims to Reduce Food Waste in Salt Lake City and Beyond

by Terra Pace

In Salt Lake City, we’re proud to offer curbside compost collection for residents. That means those brown bins can take more than just leaves and twigs– they can take your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds.

However, food waste is still a big problem. In the U.S. nearly 40% of the nation’s food supply is thrown out, and according to the EPA, 20% of what goes to municipal landfills is food waste.

While compost operations can handle raw fruit and vegetable scraps, a missing piece of the food waste puzzle– particularly for large operations– is what to do with prepared products. This includes cooked foods, packaged foods, meat, cheese, and leftovers from someone’s dinner plate.

Enter Wasatch Resource Recovery.

Slated for operation in fall of 2018, the company will open an “anaerobic digester” that will be able to turn organic waste– including fats, oils, and grease– into sustainable resources –– biogas and bio-based fertilizer.  This project, which will help to greatly reduce the amount of food going to our landfill, will also generate energy.


Who Is Working on This?

Wasatch Resource Recovery operates under a partnership between ALPRO Energy & Water and the South Davis Sewer District. It will accept food waste from businesses across the state. Currently over 20 businesses, including larger local corporations like Nestle and Harmon’s grocery stores, have committed to send their food waste to the digester.

The groundbreaking, which happened in June, showcased the project site and plans for the new anaerobic digester. Read more about the groundbreaking event in the Salt Lake Tribune.

How Does It Work?

  1. When the organic waste arrives at the facility it goes through a series of machines that remove contaminants or other non-food materials. (Yes, that means all those expired cans and cartons from grocery stores will be processed!)
  2. Once the contaminants are sorted out, secondary water or wastewater, is added to the organic waste mixture and is mixed together until it reaches a liquid state. Since the machine uses only secondary water, no potable water is used in the process.
  3. Next, the liquid is passed through a rotating screen where any remaining non-food contaminants are sorted out. The organic waste liquid that is left goes to the digester where it is heated to aid the growth of microbes.
  4. These microbes then help to create biogas which can then be turned into natural gas.  Which when in full operation, WRR will be able to supply enough natural gas for 40,000 people, roughly a community the size of Bountiful.

See the full process here.

Gov Herbert Wasatch Resource Recovery Groundbreaking

Governor Herbert speaks at the groundbreaking for Wasatch Resource Recovery’s anaerobic digester on June 15, 2017.  Photo: Bridget Stuchly

What’s Next?

A few weeks ago, Wasatch Resource Recovery met with the public at Squatter’s Brewery (one of the digester’s participating businesses) to discuss the project in detail. Morgan Bowerman, Resource Recovery & Sustainability Manager for the company, addressed those in attendance and shared her enthusiasm for food waste management in the state. Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department Director Vicki Bennett also spoke and expressed her support on behalf of the Salt Lake City.

Currently, the digester is only seeking business clients, but there may be room for individuals to participate down the line.

Businesses will be able to coordinate with their commercial waste hauler to take their organic waste to the digester.

SLCgreen is currently planning an event to educate e2 businesses about how to get involved.

If you are interested in finding out more about Wasatch Resource Recovery’s Digester or how to sign up your business, check out their website by clicking here.

To learn more about the e2 Sustainable Business Program visit our page here.

Stay tuned for more anaerobic digester news coming over the next year!

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