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Source: US Environment Protection Agency

News Releases from Region 09

10/01/2020

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SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of two California organizations for grants to divert food waste from landfills by expanding anaerobic digester capacity. Nationally, California grantees UC Davis and the City of Oxnard are among 12 recipients to receive approximately $3 million in funding. The project types selected for funding include feasibility studies, demonstration projects, as well as technical assistance and training. EPA anticipates that it will make these awards once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

“Finding solutions to better curb food waste continues to be a top priority for the Trump administration,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This year’s round of innovative community projects is focusing on ways to reduce food waste at the local and state levels and divert it from landfills.”

Healthy soil is important to farmers, their families and the community,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “These anaerobic digestion projects will help turn what was once waste into products to our fields and create renewable energy.” 

The selected grant recipients in California and anticipated award amounts are:

  • University of California-Davis (Davis, Calif.), $299,000 to demonstrate a system for biomass recycling that produces a concentrated ammonia fertilizer by optimizing their current digester system.
     
  • City of Oxnard (Oxnard, Calif.), $182,000 to conduct a feasibility evaluation of the city’s organic waste for anaerobic digestion and to test run delivery to the city’s wastewater treatment plant for co-digestion.

“This project will demonstrate novel technologies at the acclaimed UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester with an aim of increasing the amount of food waste processed in the existing digester facility while simultaneously producing valuable biofertilizer products with high market potential,” said Ruihong Zhang, Principal Investigator for the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis. “This project represents a leap-forward in the anaerobic digestion system with high potential for environmental benefits and expansion of the sustainable economy for the next generation of American jobs.”

“Thanks to this EPA grant, the City can break down organic waste and turn it into electricity at our wastewater facility,” said Rosemarie Gaglione, City of Oxnard’s Public Works Director. “Using this renewable energy will save our ratepayers while also meeting the State’s new requirements to keep food waste out of landfills.”

This anaerobic digestion funding is a part of EPA’s contributions to the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, a partnership among EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration, to reduce food loss and waste through individual and combined federal action. Anaerobic digestion is a process whereby microorganisms break down organic materials, such as food scraps, manure and sewage sludge, all in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas, which can be captured and used for energy production, and “digestate,” a nutrient-rich product, such as a fertilizer.

Anaerobic digestion is a strategy included in EPA’s food recovery hierarchy that is preferable to landfilling/incineration because it reclaims valuable resources. Keeping food waste from landfills, such as transforming it into fuel or fertilizer, can save money and reduce environmental impacts.

The additional 10 projects selected around the country are:

  • Central New York Technology Development Organization (Liverpool, N.Y.)

Center for EcoTechnology (Pittsfield, Mass.)

  • Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pa.)
  • Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.)
  • North Central Texas Council of Governments (Arlington, Texas)
  • Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Fla.)
  • University of Illinois-Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
  • University of Missouri-Columbia (Columbia, Mo.)
  • Washington State University (Pullman, Wash.)

For more information on EPA and anaerobic digestion, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/anaerobic-digestion.

To learn about other EPA Resources and Possible Funding Opportunities Related to the Food System, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/resources-and-possible-funding-opportunities-related-food-system

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