Portland, Maine based ecomaine has launched a new food waste recycling service to help its member communities reach the statewide recycling goal of 50% by 2021.
The non-profit, quasi-municipal organisation which delivers solid waste and recycling services to 57 communities in Maine and New Hampshire said that having conducting a rigorous Request for Proposal (RFP) process this spring, it awarded Exeter Agri-Energy and its affiliated collection company Agri-Cycle Energy, both of Exeter, Maine, a five-year contract.
Under the contract Exeter Agri-Energy will pick up the food waste collected by ecomaine and transport it to its anaerobic digester for energy recovery.
ecomaine itself began accepting food waste this week and explained that it chose to work with a third-party food waste processor based on the results of its Organics Recycling Feasibility study in 2013.
“At ecomaine, we are committed to delivering sustainable waste management solutions that conform to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Solid Waste Management Hierarchy,” said said Troy Moon, board chairman of ecomaine. “We encourage residents and businesses to, reduce the amount of trash they make, reuse items whenever possible, recycle and separate food scraps from their trash wherever they can.”
“Recent studies have shown that organic materials make up about 40% of our waste stream,” continued Moon. “Half of that is food scraps. Providing towns and businesses with an easy way to divert this material from the waste stream will help our communities be more sustainable and may save them money.”
ecomaine noted a report which suggested that existing processing capacity in Maine makes it more cost effective to find a private sector partner than to construct a new facility.
The Exeter Agri-Energy is said to combine the power of anaerobic digestion with a state-of-the-art de-packager, which allows participants to collect food waste in the most “ick-free” fashion possible.
“Simply place all food scraps in a clear plastic bag and the ‘ick’ factor is solved,” said ecomaine CEO Kevin Roche.
Adam Wintle, managing partner of Exeter Agri-Energy and Agri-Cycle Energy added: “We invested in a new system last November… It’s helping us pre-process and shred solids, including grocery store food waste, before they are fed into the digesters to optimize biogas production.”
Exeter Agri-Energy’s anaerobic digester uses cow manure and organics to generate enough biogas to power approximately 800 homes.
The ‘zero-energy, closedloop system’ also generates a liquid bi-product used as cropland fertiliser, and solids byproducts used as animal bedding or compost product.
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