Introducing the Receiving Building

The WRR can accept a total of nearly 260,000 gallons of liquified organic waste and 330 tons of solid food waste every day! The building is designedaround collecting, processing, and preparing the organic waste quickly and efficiently. 

The receiving building is kept at a negative pressure through a foul air system. This contains any potential for bad smells from leaving the building. Part of this system are two large, quick-draw fabric doors that allow tipping trucks to pull completely into the building. 

Inside the building, haulers empty solid food waste onto a tipping floor at the north end. Pallets of aluminum, plastic, or glass bottled waste is unloaded through docks at the south end. Three different depacking machines break up the waste, removing any packaging and macerate the organic waste into a liquid slurry. 

One of three depackaging machines. This machine processes solid waste from the tipping floor (behind). A second machine of this type will be added in phase two.

Even the sloped tipping floor is designed to be washed, the liquid captured and added to the digester.

All of the now-liquified waste is spun through a degritting machine to remove any fine, hard grit that wasn’t removed in the depackaging machine such as bone pieces, dirt, or glass. 

Now the waste is ready to start the anaerobic digestion process! 

What Waste Does WRR Accept?

How are we going to fill our five million gallons (and in phase two, ten million gallons) of anaerobic tank space? With organic waste from food manufacturers, restaurants, and other companies. We can accept the “full plate” of food waste as well as some other organic waste.  This means grains, breads, and baked goods, vegetable and fruit, meat and fish, dairy and cheese, fats and oils, beverages, sugary and processed foods. We can also take certain forms of animal waste, small amounts of paper product, and green landscape waste.

For the purpose of producing methane, caloric dense waste is the most valuable. Waste containing high amounts of fats and oils are particularly productive for the digester, followed by sugary or starchy foods.

The digester doesn’t do as well with dense woody waste or bones. Additionally, it can’t process metals, plastics, or toxic materials.

Solid food waste is processed through a set of machines to remove any solid-waste contamination of non-digestible material and also filter out grit that could build up in the digester tank. Our equipment is able to manage packaged or bagged solid food waste that add up to less than 7% contamination by weight. However, we strongly encourage source separating and recycling when possible.

If you are a business interested in diverting organic waste to WRR, please contact us.

Soil Health & WRR

Anaerobic Digesters like those at Wasatch Resource Recovery are powerful solutions to a variety of issues in our modern life. Soil health is one of those issues. Much of the top soil in our world has eroded, degraded, and lost productivity. Not only are these soils important for sustaining our food systems but soil is the earth’s greatest carbon sequestering and storage tool. Healthy soil can also help collect nutrients from our water systems to prevent harmful issues such as algae blooms.

By diverting organic waste from landfills and digesting it instead, we are connecting the loop in the nutrient cycle. Digestate, the finished solid product of anaerobic digestion, is highly nutrient dense, and can be  used as an effective natural fertilizer. When added to agricultural soils, it helps maintain a healthy soil ecosystem, water retention, lessen erosion, and lead to more productive and healthy crops.

As agricultural technologies advance to meet the needs of the worlds growing population, innovations like anaerobic digestion are taking challenges and finding holistic solutions to the pressures facing the world today.

Food Recovery Hierarchy

In 2015, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a goal to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. This goal was recently reaffirmed by the current administration. Currently, 40% of the food supply is estimated to be wasted. The EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy, an inverted pyramid, sets priorities on how best to reach the goal and save natural resources.

The pyramid’s highest priority is to reducing waste at the source of production. This can happen on an individual, business, or industrial level by means of harvesting, storing and preparing food properly, creative solutions to excess foods, meal planning, and adjusting habits and portion sizes.

1 in 7 U.S. Households (and 1 in 6 Utah Households) have difficulty providing for their food needs. Rescuing food that would be wasted for those who need it could greatly diminish those numbers. Edible foods can be donated through a variety of programs and organizations, such as food pantries and shelters. The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects food donors from liability and there can even be tax incentives for donating unsaleable food. The Utah Food Bank is a great local resource to rescue edible food waste.

Nearly 36% of the world’s crops go to feed the animals that, often feed us. To reduce food waste and reduce the percentage of crops (not to mention land-use, water, and transportation) that go to animal feed, the EPA suggests using wasted food for livestock, pet, or even zoo animal feed.

If the food cannot be consumed by humans or animals, the EPA encourages diverting food waste to industrial uses. This is the piece of the puzzle that Wasatch Resource Recovery will fill. Unusable and spoiled food waste can be collected to produce renewable biogas and high-quality fertilizer. Creating a multitude of benefits for the water, soil, and air.

If anaerobic digesters are not available, the next best step is to compost wasted food, thereby return nutrients back to the soil for the next generation of crops. This can be done at home with a simple vermiculture set up, or through services provided by Salt Lake City or Momentum Recycling.

Although the causes of food waste are far reaching, the solutions are broad, and we can each have an impact and be part of the solution.

Postponed | Open House

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are sorry to say we will not be able to host an open house this month. We are looking for an early 2019 open house.

It is almost time to take a first peek at the Wasatch Resource Recovery.

Visit us on Tuesday, October 16th to learn more about the site and project; get an update on the construction process; In depth tours on the anaerobic digester process; and food and beverage from business who will be diverting food waste and helping us create renewable energy.

Visit any time between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Brief welcome at 10:30 am.  Please like us on Facebook and share our event.


We look forward to seeing you!

Guide to WRR Anaerobic Digester Process

While there are many moving pieces of Wasatch Resource Recovery, it is a relatively straightforward system that allows natural processes to happen more efficiently. In addition to reducing landfill use and capturing harmful greenhouse gasses and utilizing it to warm our homes. Read on for a step-by-step guide to how the Anaerobic Digester at Wasatch Resource Recovery operates.

  1. Waste Collection

Wasatch Resource Recovery is able to accept organic waste in many forms. Organic waste is trucked in from participating organizations. These trucks can enter any number of loading bays depending on what waste they are providing.

Unpackaged liquid waste (Up to 200,000 gallons per day) can be deposited directly into holding tanks. Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) are released into a screened intake and held in a warming tank to allow it to remain in liquid form. (Up to 50,000 gallons per day)

Flats of consistent beverage containers will be deposited in the loading warehouse (Up to 10,000 gallons per day). Inconsistently packaged waste, such as bagged food waste from restaurants or grocery stores is dropped off in a holding bay. (Up to 80,000 gallons per day)

  1. Depackaging

Solid waste enters a warehouse where it will be deposited in one of three machines depending on the packaging type. Consistent glasses, plastic, or aluminum beverage loads are crushed up allowing the liquid organic waste to separate from the material. The recyclable material will be transferred to a material recycler.

Bagged and boxed organic waste enters through a similar depackaging machine that pulps the organic material and allows it to separate from the packaging.

  1. Pre-Digester

Once the organic waste is separated and macerated it enters an additional machine in order to remove any remaining grit that could build up in the digester.

The individual organic waste collections are then blended in a tank with water in order to produce the desired ratio of solids required for the next stage of the process.

  1. Digester

The mixture is pumped into one of two 2.5 million-gallon Anaerobic Digesters (An additional two digesters will be built in phase two) This slightly warmed tank allows for the natural decomposition process to occur. First naturally occurring fermentation bacteria break down the waste into simple sugars and organic acids, next methanogens (methane-producing organisms) consume the organic acids and release methane.

  1. Solid Waste Collection

From the digestion process, gas and liquefied waste will be collected. Phosphorus is collected from the liquefied product, and the remaining liquid is channeled to a dewatering machine. This results in a nutrient-rich dry fertilizer (up to 194 cubic yards produced a day) which can be used by farmers to grow crops. The resulting water is heated up to recover the ammonia produced in the digester. The remaining clean water will be processed to remove potassium and nitrogen (great in our soil, but harmful in our lakes and streams) through South Davis Sewer District.

  1. Gas Collection

The gas released from the digester is up to 65% methane. On a daily basis, a single digester can produce 2600 cubic feet of gas. This gas is conditioned and released into the Dominion Energy’s natural gas line to provide renewable energy for up to 40,000 people.

What Does Anaerobic Digestion Really Mean?

Anaerobic Digestion is a miraculous process that occurs within all humans and animals. Anaerobic is a word used to describe an environment without oxygen, and digestion is a process in which organic material is broken down into simpler organic products.

The giant tanks at WRR’s project site are sealed to prevent any seepage of oxygen and heated to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions mimic the digestive tracts of animals where microorganisms breakdown organic material most efficiently. The tiny “bugs” eat the organic material and convert it into methane and carbon dioxide (along with water vapor and a few other trace gasses). In our system, the gasses are separated; the methane is used as an energy source, while the carbon is used to aid the growth of algae in greenhouses.

Additionally, the microorganisms leave behind a sludge that can be separated into liquids and solids. The liquid is recycled back into the Wastewater Treatment Plant while the solid is used as a bio-based fertilizer. This model imitates a phenomenon that takes place in nature known as “nutrient cycling.” In a world where 40% of food is wasted, Anaerobic Digestion is a modern, technological supplement to nutrient cycling in our own concrete jungle.

To learn more, visit the EPA’s webpage dedicated to anaerobic digestion.  

Strategic Partner Alder Construction Recognized by WCF

Wasatch Resource Recovery has a lot of moving parts, partnering organizations, and employees that have delivered the project at its current stage in development. Alder Construction is one of WRR’s main driving forces: building the complex facilities required to implement anaerobic digestion technology on such a large scale. To ensure the success of the project, construction had to begin over a year before test loads could run; and still before that, hours of planning, designing, piloting, and financing occurred.

WRR would like to recognize Alder Construction for all the great work that they do – and congratulate them on their Charles Caine Workplace Safety Award from the Worker’s Compensation Fund. We truly appreciate their commitment to creating a safe work environment for both their employees and clients. We could not be where we are today without them. 


Pioneer Day – Remembering Utah’s History

On July 24th, 1847 Utah pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and famously stated “This is the place.” In an era of hardship and scarcity, these pioneers engrained aspects of sustainability into their culture out of necessity. Brigham Young, a leader of the first Mormon settlers to arrive in Salt Lake once said “Learn to sustain yourselves: lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity.” Without the guarantee of food supply, people learned to conserve their resources, waste little, and save for the future – skills mastered by Native Americans long before.

Times have changed, but a focus on securing future prosperity has not. People today are still concerned about adequately providing for their families. However, a culture of excess in the modern United States often creates barriers to prioritizing thoughtful consumption and awareness of waste that is produced. Still, the need remains, and sustainability in Utah has changed accordingly: from conserving morsels of food to implementing large-scale technological solutions.

The Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development website claims: “As Utah’s population is set to nearly double by 2050, our energy demands will increase. To that end, the Utah Energy Action Plan has been developed to help OED meet its objectives and deliver results to the residents of Utah through a disciplined approach to the management and execution of its programs.” Wasatch Resource Recovery is excited to play a role in the evolving history of sustainability that is a part of Utah and its development. From pioneering the western frontier, to pioneering the frontier of renewable energy, Utah stands out – as Governor Gary Herbert states in his Energy Summit Video – “as a crossroads of global innovation.”