Utah’s first and only anaerobic food waste digester opened to the public last Thursday for an open house highlighting how the center will turn food waste into renewable energy. Wasatch Resource Recovery, a public-private partnership between ALPRO Energy & Water and the South Davis Sewer District, will take in about 700 tons of food waste daily. When it expands its operation in the near future, that number will double to about 1,400 tons.
Anaerobic digestion is a biological process in which microbes break down biodegradable material without oxygen. “The anticipated amount of organic waste diverted to the anaerobic digester each year will equate to taking over 75,000 cars from the highway in carbon emissions,” according to a press release from the company.
Other compost facilities in Utah can convert fruit and vegetable scraps into energy, but not much more. Wasatch Resource Recovery is the first in the state that’s able to convert food waste into energy on a much larger scale. “We’re able to take the meat and the dairy and the cooked foods and the processed foods, sugary foods and packaged foods,” said Morgan Bowerman, the plant’s sustainability manager. “We can process all of that food waste here. So we get to do the full plate … at this facility. And there is nothing else like it here in Utah.”
The main sources of waste will come from food manufacturing waste, restaurant waste, grocery store waste and grease trap waste. Since it’s still a part of waste management, there is a fee for companies to recycle food waste to the plant instead of sending it all to the landfill — but doing so can save businesses a lot of money, Bowerman said. “If you’re a good manufacturer and you’ve got a lot of food waste, you’re gonna save a lot of money by coming here,” she said.
Within the year, the facility plans to place bins outside the facility for people to drop off food waste. Bowerman said residential curbside pickup could be an option someday, but would be years in the future if it happens.