Thanks to a new online tool touted as the first of its kind in the nation, restaurants, hotels and other businesses will now be able to link up with nearby wastewater treatment plants and other facilities to recycle their biodegradable waste into renewable energy.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest region recently launched its first waste-to-biogas mapping tool, a resource that the agency hopes will increase the production of biogas, a type of biofuel produced by breaking down organic matter in the absence of oxygen.
There appears to be a market for such a resource. Less than three percent of food was recovered or recycled in 2010, the EPA estimates. High profile companies like Whole Foods Markets (NASDAQ: WFM) and MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) have enacted recycling and composting programs. And a growing number of food service and hospitality companies are looking for ways to better handle organic waste – including programs for consumer and employee education.
In addition to having the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the agency said, recycling increased amounts of organic waste has another benefit.
“Harvesting this energy prevents waste from ending up in landfills or clogging sewer lines,” EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said in a press release.
The agency says the online tool is designed for “decision-makers with technical expertise in the fields of waste management, wastewater treatment and renewable energy” -- including local and state governments, non-profits and businesses.
Next page: Business efforts to convert waste into biogas