Organics recycling is nature's original form of recycling, and the practice is as old as life on earth.
Within the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, organics include food scraps, yard debris, and soiled paper. Beyond the MSW stream, the category includes things like wastewater treatment biosolids, food manufacturing by-products, animal manures, paper mill residues, wood ash, and other mineral residuals. We work to recycle these materials and return their value to the soil through composting, anaerobic digestion, land application, and other methods.
We started collecting food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores in Burlington, VT in 1999. Today we are collecting roughly 3,000 tons per year of food scraps for recycling, servicing nearly 200 customers in select markets in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York. In the coming years we intend to grow this line of business.
Recently, two states within our operating footprint - Vermont and Massachusetts - passed new rules requiring the diversion of food waste from disposal. In both states, we participated throughout the rulemaking process, serving on advisory panels, submitting data and comments, and providing general support to ensure the rules were crafted in a practical and sustainable manner.
In addition to supporting new public policy mandating organics recycling, we have been actively evaluating and developing economical strategies for collecting and diverting food scraps. We encourage our customers to measure their food waste and find ways to waste less and donate more. Then we work to collect and capture the nutrient and energy value of whatever is leftover.
In Rutland, Vermont we are preparing to break ground on a pilot facility that will process food scraps into an energy-rich feedstock for delivery to Cow Power farms. The Cow Power program supports renewable energy and local agriculture by paying a premium rate to farmers who produce electricity using on-farm anaerobic digesters. The food scraps grinding project will be supported by a grant from the Clean Energy Development Fund and Green Mountain Power.