As recycling problems increase in cities and food waste grows around the country, some cities are adopting anaerobic digestion to help solve climate change. This process uses bacteria to break down organics in an oxygen-free enclosure. The material is then converted into biogas.  Biogas can then be used as a coal or fuel replacement.

It’s like a faster compost process. In Los Angeles, the city is using wastewater treatment infrastructure to develop an anaerobic process. The system will convert food waste into biogas. The biogas can then be used for fuel or renewable power. Their system can process 165 tons per day of separated food waste, which turns into 2,500 gasoline gallon equivalents of natural gas vehicle fuel.

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In Southington, Connecticut, a similar system is in use. Their facility produces 420,000 cubic feet of biogas. This is enough to power 775 homes. And Connecticut is working to build more facilities. The United States has about 2,200 biogas sites, including 250 digesters on farms. And in Canada, Toronto is working towards powering garbage trucks using biogas.

Adoption of biogas is complicated and can take cities a while to adopt. It’s expensive compared to composting, requires new sites or new infrastructure investment. The city must also have a separate food waste pickup system.

Patrick Serras,executive Director of the American Biogas Council, told Politico of the potential of biogas across the country, “We are at one-seventh, maybe even one-tenth of the potential of this industry.”

Read more about cities taking a stand against climate change in One Green Planet, including coverage of the C40 conference.

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