Air Quality and WRR

The 2019 Salt Lake City mayoral race is already off to a steady trot. Many of the numerous candidates who have announced their run have included in their platform an issue that, as a whole, Utahns tend to agree on; improving poor air quality.

A major portion the winter air pollution, PM 2.5 is a general term for a variety of air particulates. These are especially dangerous for our respiratory system as they can pass through our body’s natural filters, causing harmful health effects.

Up to 70% of PM 2.5 is composed of airborne Ammonium Nitrate, which is composed of two different emissions. The first component of this chemical come from the emissions of cars, fireplaces, and manufacturing. A recent study, Wasatch Front Ammonia and Chloride Observations, searched for sources of the other component of the PM 2.5, ammonia.

Some of this Ammonia is produced in the breakdown of organic waste. When this happens in conventional landfills it is released into the air and becomes PM 2.5. Through Anaerobic Digestion, Wasatch Resource Recovery is able to contain and capture these and other gases produced in the natural breakdown of food and organic waste.

Methane is separated from these gases to be used to heat and power homes. The ammonia is condensed and used to form a natural and nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer that makes a great amendment to our native soils. By capturing these gases, Wasatch Resource Recovery is helping businesses across the valley reduce their impact on our air quality! 

Wasatch Resource Recovery is turning problems into solutions! 

We are in the Pilot Phase!

The past two weeks we have been busy at work launching our pilot mode. In that time, we have already collected and diverted 2,000 tons of food waste from our pilot participants. This has included liquid manufacturing waste, solid organic waste from restaurants and grocery stores, and bottled and canned food waste. So far all of the depackaging machines and the degrit machine are working perfectly!

In the coming weeks we will be balancing the pH and “seeding” the digester tanks with a healthy established microorganism colony that will grow and continue to break down food waste once we are fully operational.

As more companies from around the valley we are getting closer to filling the two 2.5 million-gallon digesters. Explore our website to find out who is participating or sign your business up to divert food waste. 

It has begun!

Well, look at that, the first load of organic food waste on the receiving floor of Wasatch Resource Recovery. Just last week this was the site of our Open House, to inaugurate the completed facility. Hosting 300 guests for lively conversations and tours of the facilities. 

People from participating business and organizations visited to see where their food waste would turn into renewable energy; groups interested in diverting their waste came to see what all the buzz was about; and citizens, politicians, interest groups came to see a powerful solution to some of the challenges our growing region faces. 

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us!

Check out this fantastic news segment!

Announcing the Open House!

It is almost time to take a first peek at the Wasatch Resource Recovery. With only a few final finishing touches, we would love to show you around before we begin to accept food waste from around the Wasatch Front! 

Visit us on Thursday, February 7th to learn more about the site and project;   In depth tours on the anaerobic digester facility; and food and beverage from business who will be diverting food waste and helping us create renewable energy.

Visit any time on site, 1370 West Center Street between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Brief welcome at 10:30 AM by Morgan Bowerman.  Please like us on Facebook and share our event.

We can’t wait to to see you!

FOG Means Fuel

There is a reason why everything fried, fatty, and oily tastes so good to the human pallet. Fats and oils contain high amounts of energy (calories) per volume. This energy source is extremely easy for the body to access and use.

Similar to the human digestion system, the anaerobic digesters love Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG). The microorganisms integral to the process thrive and multiply with ready access to FOG. This increased activity means more methane gas per volume of food waste. Other forms of food waste need to break down into simpler compounds before heading to the digesters, but the microorganisms can readily consume FOG. 

 Often restaurants hire a waste hauler to collect and dispose of their FOG separately than their other waste.  Haulers truck in the FOG to WRR and empty it into one of three screened receiving bays. The filters strain any debris. Pressurize hot water breaks up clumps of fat or grease. Around 50,000 gallons of FOG can be accepted on a daily basis.

From the receiving bay, pipes carry the liquid food waste into the FOG holding tank. The tank’s capacity is 150,000 gallons. While all of the large tanks (FOG, Hydrolysis, and Digester) maintain a constant temperature, the FOG tank is insulated and slightly warmer in order to keep them in a liquid state. 

Just like any animal’s gut, too much grease isn’t good for it, so FOG is added in proportioned amounts to the tank to create optimal conditions for the key bacteria growth.

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!