Commercial Food Recycling Project
An innovative new program to cut waste
and generate renewable energy!
The Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority (CCCSWA) has partnered with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and Republic Services (formerly, Allied Waste Services) to expand the “Food Recycling Project”; an innovative new program that will divert commercial food waste from landfill disposal for conversion into renewable energy. This project began as a pilot program in November 2008 and is currently available to serve most restaurants, grocery stores, and other large commercial or institutional food waste generators in the CCCSWA (Central Contra Costa County) service area.
The Food Recycling Project differs from other food recycling programs that use traditional composting processes. Collected food discards are taken to EBMUD’s water treatment facility in Oakland where it is added to large “digesters” that are primarily used to process sewage waste. The food waste is “anaerobically” digested which results in production of large quantities of methane gas. This gas is captured and used to generate electricity which is used to power the water treatment facility, and excess energy is sold to PG&E. In addition to renewable energy, compost-like material is also produced which is used as a soil amendment for non-food agricultural applications.
So why is this new food recycling program important? People are concerned about the environment. So, when customers patronize a restaurant or grocery store participating in this program, they will be gratified to know that food waste is being recycled! However, what they may not realize is that food waste can make up almost 40% of the central county’s waste stream, so recycling as much of this waste can really make a difference. This is especially important because food waste in landfills will decompose and produce green house gases that contribute to climate change. Recognizing those restaurants and groceries that recycle food waste and encouraging others to join, is important to the overall expansion of commercial food recycling. Community members can help by patronizing those restaurants or groceries that are actively using the Food Recycling Project to recycle their food waste. To find a restaurant, grocery or other food producing business in your community, click below on the
How can restaurants and other food waste producing businesses participate? Participation by restaurants, grocery stores, and other large commercial generators is easy. Staff can be trained on how to separate food wastes from other waste materials for collection by our program. Food generating businesses will be given special containers (sizes vary to fit available space) for collection of the clean food waste. Additionally, businesses will be given signs and posters to help remind staff how to participate in the food recycling project. A collection schedule will be established with the program collector, Allied Waste Services. Allied is able to make multiple collections per week to recycle your food waste and prevent creating a nuisance. Please refer to the attached poster for additional information on the program and how to participate.
How much does this service cost? Currently, there is no charge for this service. Additional savings can be realized by diverting all or as much food waste from garbage disposal as possible. This is because businesses pay for garbage disposal that includes food waste. By removing food waste from garbage and reducing overall disposal, businesses are able to reduce garbage collection requirements that will reduce their costs!
Other benefits for participating businesses …
In addition to potential reduced disposal costs, there are other benefits:
The CCCSWA will recognize participating businesses on an ongoing basis which will help businesses capture potential marketing benefits,
Public recognition of active participants in the food waste recycling project which includes a presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation and inclusion in the CCCSWA’s ongoing project promotion that includes announcements, articles, and photographs in local newspapers (Contra Costa Times, Lamorinda Sun, Walnut Creek Journal) as well as the CCCSWA quarterly newsletter, “Diversions”, and
Businesses will be provided a variety of promotional items to let customers know about their efforts in recycling food waste. These free promotional items include a Food Recycling Project Logo and window decal, Restaurant Table Tents and Restaurant Bill Fold Inserts. Click on them to view examples.
For additional information or assistance regarding the Food Recycling Project, please contact:
Kimberly Lam, Recycling Coordinator
Bart Carr, Senior Program Manager
Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority (CCCSWA)