County officials from across the state met today in Oneida County for a tour of the new Oneida-Herkimer Food2Energy facility. This state-of-the-art facility diverts food scraps from the regional landfill and recovers them for energy through a process called anaerobic digestion. The tour was coordinated by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, discarded food constitutes 22% of municipal solid waste, meaning more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash. The Food2Energy facility has the capacity to divert up to 21,000 tons of this waste from landfills annually.
The project was undertaken by the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (OHSWA) in partnership with the Oneida County Sewer District. The Authority receives the organic waste and separates the packaging from the food scraps. The recovered food scraps are then sent to the Oneida County Waste Water Treatment Plant, where they are broken down into methane gas that can be used for energy through a process called anaerobic digestion.
“Our world class Food2Energy facility clearly highlights the benefits of thinking regionally with good planning, foresight and an integrated system that benefits the entire county and can be emulated in communities throughout the state. Food2Energy anaerobic digestion is at the cutting edge of solid waste innovation that allows our region to continue to be on the forefront of environmental and solid waste policy that not only protects the environment but pays real economic dividends for our taxpayers. Today, government leaders from across the state and the New York State Association of Counties are here to tour this world class facility that is a model for them to take back to their communities for the benefit of everyone in the state of New York,” Said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
Food2Energy targets large generators of food waste, such as hospitals, colleges, business offices, the food industry, grocery chains, and restaurants. These large generators have an economic incentive to participate in the program because it saves $22/ton on waste disposal. Residents also have the option to drop off bagged food waste. The facility can accept a wide range of organic materials, including fruits and vegetables, dairy projects, coffee filters, greasy pizza boxes, and paper cups and plates.
“Herkimer County is pleased to partner with Oneida County on this important program to reduce energy costs. Food2Energy will also reduce food disposal costs for our businesses and provide residents with a new option for disposing of food waste,” said Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Bernard Peplinski.
“The Authority has continually evaluated options for organics diversion to find a practical and economical solution to integrate into its existing solid waste management system," said OHSWA Executive Director William Rabbia. "It is our goal to be proactive in terms of diverting waste and preserving the region we call home. Food2Energy is another example of that.”
The Food2Energy facility and program is an achievement in waste management and energy production, as well as an example of a successful partnership between local governments and agencies.
“Food2Energy is a world-class facility that shows the important role counties can play in reducing food waste and protecting the environment,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “I commend local leaders in Oneida and Herkimer counties for working together to spearhead this innovative project and we thank the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for supporting their investments.”