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EPA, San Jose, recycler celebrate food waste to energy conversion

Release Date: 11/25/2014
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, EPA, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov, Jennie Loft, City of San Jose, 408-535-8554, jennie.loft@sanjoseca.gov

Innovative local composting and biogas facility leads the nation

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and City of San Jose will celebrate the city’s successful food-waste-to-energy program at a tour of the nation’s first large-scale commercial anaerobic digestion facility, privately owned and operated by Zero Waste Energy Development Company.

“Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on reducing food waste, the largest single material still going to landfills,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By turning food scraps into compost and renewable energy, San Jose and Zero Waste Energy Development are helping fight waste and climate change.”

The San Jose compost and biogas program and Zero Waste Energy Development (ZWED) facility supports the city’s goal of achieving zero waste by 2022. The city currently diverts about 74 percent of waste material from landfills through reuse, recycling, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

“Our strong public-private partnership with ZWED exemplifies our bold Green Vision,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “We’re diverting waste from our landfill and converting it to energy by collaborating with ZWED at the world’s largest anaerobic digestion facility. This is project is a win-win for our businesses, our community, and the environment.”

During its first ten months of operation in 2014, the ZWED facility has recycled more than 30,000 tons of food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores that would otherwise go to the landfill. This food waste generates 500 kilowatts per hour of electricity that is used to power onsite operations, and it has produced approximately 6,000 tons of compost. The facility is capable of digesting and composting 90,000 tons of organic waste per year and is expected to produce 1.6 megawatts and sell excess power to the grid in early 2015.

“We’re pleased to have the EPA and City of San Jose join in celebrating our first anniversary of the opening of our facility,” said Richard Cristina, president of ZWED. “We’re excited to showcase the tremendous success of our partnership to keep San Jose’s commercial wet waste out of landfills while creating a high quality compost and renewable energy.”

San Jose garbage, recycling and composting systems start with state-of-the-art facilities where all commercial waste is first sorted before anything is sent to the landfill. Organic and food waste is moved to the ZWED facility, where 16 anaerobic digesters use bacteria to break down the material in an oxygen-depleted environment to create a biogas rich in methane. The gas in turn fuels a combined heat and power plant that generates electricity for adjacent recycling operations.

California recently announced the recipients of $14.5 million in grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food and other organic waste going to landfill. Five projects in California will each receive $2.5 to $3 million to expand or develop anaerobic digester or composting facilities similar to San Jose’s.

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and new Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit encourage businesses and organizations to reduce food waste and help feed people in need. Participants donated more than 98,000 tons of food and diverted more than 375,000 tons of wasted food from landfills last year, cutting greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 85,000 cars off the road.

Information on today’s tour, photos and more food waste resources: http://www.epa.gov/region9/mediacenter/ad-sanjose/

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About U.S. EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region 9 administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations -- home to more than 48 million people. It is a diverse, beautiful and productive part of the nation, from the rainforests of Hawaii and the farms of the Central Valley to the thriving economies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Nearly 50 million people make their homes and livelihoods across EPA Region 9’s 386,000 square mile-jurisdiction, producing more than $2 trillion in goods and services each year. Over the past four decades, EPA Region 9 has spent billions of dollars and millions of staff hours to maintain and safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we treasure. While great progress has been made to reduce smog, improve water quality, clean up hazardous waste and create sustainable, healthy communities, much work remains to achieve EPA’s goals of protecting our environment and ensuring public health. Follow Us: Facebook: EPAregion9, Twitter: @EPAregion9, Newsletter: www.epa.gov/region9/newsletter

About San Jose Environmental Services Department and San Jose Green Vision
San Jose, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation. The San Jose Environmental Services Department is responsible for the management of solid waste collection and recycling; watershed protection and pollution prevention; municipal drinking water and recycled water; community sustainability initiatives, and the operation and infrastructure improvements of the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. ESD's mission is to deliver world class utility services and programs to improve our health, environment, and economy. In collaboration with other City departments and community and business partners, ESD creates innovative projects and initiatives that align with San Jose Green Vision, a long-term comprehensive plan to lead our community into a sustainable future. The Green Vision includes bold goals for clean-tech jobs, reduced energy use, renewable energy, green buildings, waste reduction, water reuse, sustainable development, a clean fleet, more trees, zero emission streetlights, and interconnected trails. www.sjenvironment/greenvision Follow Us: Facebook: SJEnvironment Twitter: @SJEnvironment Instagram: @SJEnvironment Notifications: Receive our news, events, and announcements at Notify Me www.sanjoseca.gov/list.aspxselect keyword Environment and choose from the topics list.

About Zero Waste Energy Development Company LLC
Zero Waste Energy Development Company LLC is a joint venture between GreenWaste Recovery and Zanker Road Resource Management and was formed to develop and operate the first dry fermentation anaerobic digestion facility in the United States. Zero Waste is designing and permitting a 270,000 tons per year Dry Fermentation Anaerobic Digestion Facility in San Jose that will be developed in three phases; each phase will be capable of processing 90,000 tons per year of organic materials. The facility will process and recover energy from source separated food waste and the organic fraction remaining after materials including Municipal Solid Waste are processed at GreenWaste's Material Recovery Facility and create two products: biogas containing methane and compost. To learn more about ZWEDC visit www.zwedc.com

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