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Food to Fuel Pilot Described as the ‘Next Frontier’ in Food Waste Management

A vegetable stall at Borough Market in London, UK

food to fuelThe City of Sacramento launched a one-year food to fuel pilot program in which food scraps will be collected from residents of the Elmhurst neighborhood and processed into fuel.

Residents are asked to put food waste in a bag and place it in their yard waste can. The waste will be separated and weighed by Republic Services and delivered to Clean World Partners, who will then put it through a digestion process that turns it into CNG fuel. The fuel will be used to power several of the City’s garbage trucks.

Not only does a food to fuel process create cleaner gas and, thereby, a cleaner environment, but it also succeeds in resolving another citywide issue: reducing what we put in landfill.

“About 25% of food waste in the state and pretty much in the city of Sacramento goes to landfill,” said Erin Treadwell, Spokesperson for the Recycling Solid Waste Division of the City of Sacramento. “We need to find ways to reduce what we send there. Recycling is a keep piece of that. If we can divert food waste from the landfill and turn it into a useful product, that’s the ideal.”

But why limit the pilot to such a small area of the city? Before being able to take it citywide, the City needs to find out our unique food and green waste blend so we can know what technologies and facilities are needed to convert the kind of organic materials Sacramentans generate into fuel.

“Every city has its own coffee blend,” explained Treadwell. “It’s going to be a different blend based on the kinds of foods we consume and the green waste we generate between the grass and the different leaves–we’re going to be looking at all that.”

Another factor is having a facility that can handle a citywide amount of material, which, in addition to the discoveries made about our city’s waste-blend, will take time and money. Treadwell said to think of the pilot as a data-gathering program that will inform decisions about future food to fuel projects.

Essentially, it’s a step in the right direction.

“It is putting Sacramento on the pioneering path for recycling and being a greener city,” Treadwell said. “Taking food scraps out of the waste stream and having them converted to a usable product such as gas is good for our city, good for our environment, and it’s the next frontier in managing the waste stream.”

Follow the City’s progress on the food to fuel pilot at www.facebook.com/elmhurstfoodtofuel.

About the author

Bethany Harris

Bethany joined Sacramento Press in 2013 and enjoys writing articles that uncover the happenings of the city and the people behind the stories who make them so worth telling. A native of Sacramento, she also loves photography, running, gardening, coffee, and discovering new places and new things to do--both in the city and throughout California.

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