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Producing Power From Food Waste

Food waste to energy

Image source: www.retailtechnologyreview.com

In countries like the US, food wastage has become as serious a problem as pollution. In 2010 more than 35 million tons of food was wasted in the U.S making up 14% of total municipal solid waste.

More than 30 million tons of items that are not recyclable are thrown away creating landfill.

Both the economy and the environment are affected by food wastage. Households spend a geat deal of their budget on food, and any wastage is a cost to the budget.

Efficient food purchasing, optimal storage, and careful preparation can save you money. Not only on a household level, but the same measures could be undertaken by restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and clubs.

The environment will also benefit if food is not wasted, because when waste food is disposed of in landfill it rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas which is more dangerous than carbon dioxide.

One company, Columbia Biogas, is converting food waste into energy in its Northwest Portland plant, thus providing power to PacifiCorp, an electricity provider which powers many retailer in its area. This is the first company in the U.S to produce power from waste food in an urban region.

This process of conversion of waste into electricity is done by anaerobic digestion which is carried out in a tightly sealed tank. Columbia BioGas can generate up to 5 megawatts of power which can power up to 5,000 home and retail stores. The firm has planned to increase production further.

Waste food from commercial buildings, grocery stores, restaurants, and other food businesses in area is collected and treated in the container. The organic matter in the food waste is broken down into methane in the chamber. Apart from power the plant also produces high quality fertilizers and soil amendments.

Collecting waste food and processing it will be a challenging task but local conversion demonstrated by Columbia Biogas, has shown that food waste can be turned into renewable energy.

Food waste to energy

Image source: www.epa.gov

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