Pilot program launches using food waste for renewable energy

October 4, 2017. The Encinas Wastewater Authority and Waste Management have launched a 90-day pilot program of turning leftover food into renewable energy for the plant.

   Ken Ryan, district manager of Waste Management of North County, is excited about the program. “California prides itself on being progressive and being a leader in providing closed loop recycling,” he said. “The idea with the project is to reduce and eliminate as much waste as possible on the front end, keeping food waste out of landfills.”

   The proposed Assembly Bill 1826 would require mandatory recycling of foodstuffs in the future.

   For the pilot, food waste is contributed by restaurants and other large facilities in Orange County where Waste Management’s CORe® process turns the leftovers into slurry, which is about the consistency of oatmeal. Then it is added to regular wastewater, which includes human waste and all the “other stuff” that ends up at the wastewater processing plant.

   “The bottom line is instead of just that stuff being treated by the digester you have mixed it with the food waste and what that does is cause a significant increase in methane gas, gas that can be used to generate green power,” Ryan said. “It can be converted to any number of uses like natural gas to fuel vehicles or be used on site, which could reduce dependence on the grid, reduce the electric bill or be put back on the grid for general consumption.”