New Utah facility to turn food waste to renewable energy

By Ashley Stilson, Deseret News.

NORTH SALT LAKE — Think back to the last trip to the grocery store. How much food did you buy — and how much of that did you throw away?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted globally every year. That's roughly a third of the food produced annually.

And all that discarded food usually winds up in landfills.

"We don’t really see that. We handle our waste kind of secretly — it goes out the back door. But we needed a place for that stuff to go," said Bruce Alder, president of ALPRO Energy and Water.

To cut the amount of food waste in Utah landfills, ALPRO Energy and Water, and South Davis Sewer District are partnering to build Utah's first anaerobic digester facility. Dozens of businessmen and women gathered at the groundbreaking for the building in North Salt Lake on Thursday.

"Everywhere we looked, we found more waste," Alder said. "There is a real need to divert and process these organic wastes that are now being thrown away and put in a landfill, to a better and more sustainable use."

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process where microbes break down biodegradable material without oxygen.

The Wasatch Resource Recovery facility will turn organic material — including food scraps, food manufacturing waste and expired food and beverages — into clean, renewable natural gas.

Once it is operational in the fall of 2018, the $43 million facility will divert about 360 tons of solid waste from landfills every day.