County picks firm to study building food-waste digester facility

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From a news release issued by Dane County:

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced that the County has selected AECOM, a global engineering company, to examine the viability of turning thousands of tons of food waste each year into millions of dollars of green-generated electricity.

Falk said the first phase of AECOM’s feasibility study will be completed this fall. It will explore both the financial benefits to taxpayers and the renewable energy potential of food waste from commercial, industrial and institutional sources for a possible digester to be located at the
County’s Rodefeld landfill. This would be the first food digester in the state of Wisconsin and one of only a handful in the entire country.

“Food waste recycling is a new ‘green industry’ that offers tremendous financial and environmental benefits,” said Falk. “Converting locally-produced food waste into everyday, necessary products such as energy and soil fertilizer is an innovative trash to cash solution with benefits for taxpayers.”

Food waste recycling is becoming a national trend especially being explored by those businesses that generate food waste. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, announced it is planning to roll out a 50-state food waste recycling program for its stores sometime later this

The County’s landfill currently earns taxpayers $3-million a year by turning methane from naturally decomposing landfill trash into green electricity sold to Madison Gas & Electric Company. The landfill receives approximately 200,000 tons of material every year of which 30,000 tons is food waste. Diverting food waste to a digester will significantly extend the life of the current landfill and produce greater amounts of green energy.