A public-private partnership launched just over a year ago between the Marin Sanitary Service (MSS) and the Central Marin Sanitation Agency (CMSA) now includes more than 100 participating local restaurants, caterers and supermarkets committed to converting leftover kitchen scraps into a renewable energy resource. For a full list of participants, click here. <http://marinsanitaryservice.com/f2e-participants/>  “The number of willing partners in the Food 2 Energy program has grown faster than we ever expected,” said Ruben Hernandez, Recycling Programs Coordinator. “We have a wide-range of businesses in the food services industry contributing their scraps to this project. We’re turning waste into watts and that energy gets used right here in our community.”

The cutting edge Food Scraps-to-Energy (F2E) program is a public-private partnership between CMSA, a public agency, and MSS, a family-owned local business. The F2E program converts food scraps into energy to power a wastewater treatment plant and is a first for Marin County and one of only two programs of its kind in California. “It feels good to know we are literally fueling a productive use of the food scraps that would otherwise go to waste in the landfill,” said Jeremy Patin of Nugget Market. “It makes sense all around. We’ve reduced our landfill pickups as we’ve diverted food waste to the F2E program and in this process everyone benefits.  We are proud to be a part of this progressive change in Marin County.”

MSS processes the food scraps at its transfer station and transports it to CMSA. Once there the food is mixed with fats, oils and grease from restaurants and other commercial sources, after that the mixture is pumped into anaerobic digesters. Microorganisms transform the mix into a methane biofuel and a biosolids byproduct that is used as a Class B  soil amendment. The methane biofuel is filtered and run through an engine-generator to make electricity at CMSA, which is used to power its daily operations. “I sleep better at night knowing we are reducing waste and supporting renewable energy,” said Renato Fusari of West Brooklyn Pizza Co. “Even during our busiest shifts, the process by which we collect kitchen scraps is easy and has become second nature for our staff. We are extremely happy with the training and support we get from MSS, of course, the outcome speaks volumes.”

A dedicated MSS employee works with restaurants, supermarkets and other food service businesses to train their staff and ensure the collection of food scraps goes smoothly. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to make the program as user friendly as possible,” added Hernandez. MSS also provides internal sorting containers and external curbside collection carts that are picked-up by a dedicated F2E truck. Food scraps are the largest single source of waste in California, making up more than a quarter of the residential waste stream and 16 percent of the commercial waste stream. According to a 2014 study taken by MSS before the F2E program started, 30 percent of all material sent to the Redwood Landfill is food waste. With 119 businesses – and counting – diverting their food waste from the landfill and into renewable energy generation, Marin County moves closer toward its zero waste goal.

For more information, visit www.marinsanitary.com.