Case Study – Harmons Grocery’s Vision for Sustainability Drives Food Waste Diversion Efforts

There are myriad things to consider when assessing a grocery store chain’s environmental impact. A comprehensive sustainability plan takes into consideration everything from environmentally friendly packaging, to energy conservation, to alternative fuel delivery vehicles. However, according to Kate Whitbeck, Harmons Grocery sustainability director, the locally owned and operated grocery chain chose waste reduction and diversion as a top priority early in their sustainability planning because it is an action that has the potential to yield measurable and impactful results.

“Turning our food waste into a renewable fuel helps us honor our commitment to be good stewards of the environment and community, while helping us reduce our carbon footprint.” – Kate Whitbeck; Sustainability Director

Currently, Wasatch Resource Recovery receives roughly 200 tons of food waste from 15 Harmons Grocery Stores every month. The food waste consists largely of fruit and vegetable scraps, meat, dairy and oil, as well as, baked, prepared, and packaged foods. This landfill diversion effort results in the production of enough renewable natural gas to heat 284 homes for a month.

This type of impact requires an action plan that is well aligned with the company’s sustainability vision. Fortunately, Harmons has a strong foundation on which to build because, as Chairman Bob Harmon puts it, “At Harmons, our commitment to a sustainable future is part of being a good neighbor. Caring for the environment ensures our world will remain a safe and healthy place for our associates, our community, and future generations.” To follow through on this commitment, and in an effort to maximize their environmental impact, Harmons has developed a training program for associates with the goal of: 1. Educating their employees on the procedures necessary to separate their stores’ food waste from the trash stream; and 2. Informing staff members about how these efforts benefit the larger community. Harmons works hard to create shared values among their staff which they believe, in turn, helps to ensure that employees will take ownership over the company’s sustainability efforts.

Harmons is a critical partner for Wasatch Resource Recovery in the organization’s quest to produce pipeline grade renewable natural gas – a key pillar in the drive to produce fuel from renewable sources. As Kate says, “Turning food waste into a renewable fuel helps us honor our commitment to be good stewards of the environment and community, while helping us reduce our carbon footprint.” We couldn’t agree more!

Case Study – Squatters Craft Beer and Wasatch Brewery: Guided by a Commitment to Environmental Responsibility


“The craft scene in Utah is a tight knit group of passionate people, and it is a top priority for us to be responsible stewards of the community. As such, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to reduce our impact on the environment” – Jon Lee; Brewmaster

If you were to ask the average Salt Lake City beer enthusiast which local brewery is most commonly associated with your hometown, the answer is likely to be Squatters Pub Brewery. Squatters, founded in 1989 and uniting with Wasatch Brewery in 2002 to form Utah Brewers Cooperative, is the quintessential Salt Lake City brewery with roots firmly embedded in northern Utah’s beer drinking culture. However, it is not just great beer that endears Squatters Craft Beer and Wasatch Brewery to the community, it is also their firm community-minded commitment to sustainability. As Brewmaster Jon Lee puts it, “the craft scene in Utah is a tight knit group of passionate people, and it is a top priority for us to be responsible stewards of the community. As such, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to reduce our impact on the environment”.

Look no further than Utah Brewers Coop’s partnership with Wasatch Resource Recovery’s (WRR) anaerobic digestion facility in North Salt Lake. WRR converts organic waste, otherwise destined for the landfill, into biogas which it then refines to pipeline grade renewable natural gas. Since March of 2019, when WRR first opened its doors, Squatters Pub Brewery and Wasatch Brewery have delivered 982 tons of brewing waste and 39 tons of unsaleable canned and bottled beer (the cans and bottles are captured for recycling). That brewery and beer waste resulted in the production of over 3,500 dekatherms of renewable natural gas- or enough natural gas to supply 504 homes for an entire month!

In addition to the community benefit derived from converting a waste product into a resource, the project also has significant environmental benefits, including: improved air quality by preventing the release of potent greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere; improved soil health by land applying digestate- a byproduct left over after the digestion process which is high in nutrients; and the prevention of environmental degradation resulting from fossil fuel extraction. Environmental impact aside, businesses must be keenly aware of their bottom lines- especially in these uncertain times. Fortunately, the breweries’ cost savings resulting from low tip fees and efficient material receiving processes at WRR makes the decision easy. As Caitie Gold, the Senior Marketing Manager for Squatters and Wasatch Brewing, says, “becoming a more environmentally friendly business is a win/win. Not only does it help the local community and environment, but, in this case, it simply makes good business sense by reducing wasteful spending and keeping operations running more efficiently.”

We’ve Been Busy!

Semi truck full of expired/off-spec dog food incoming to feed the digester.

So far this year (2020) we have received over 87,000 TONS of food waste! In large part, this is thanks to our amazing, planet-saving customers that consistently send us their waste product. We wanted to take a minute and highlight just a few materials that regularly come our way.

There is a dog food manufacturer based in Ogden that brings us a variety of waste streams from their production; material like this is calorically dense and our digesters eat it up (literally!). A dairy out of Cache Valley brings us cheese waste and expired packaged yogurt – fermented dairy is packed full of probiotics and natural enzymes that provide ample energy for the digesters, as well as being good for its “guts”. Multiple new distilleries and breweries have hopped on board as well – they bring us liquid stillage and brew waste as well as packaged waste (like expired keg and canned or bottled beer). Sugary material like alcohol is another fuel powerhouse!

If you are a business or know of a business that would like to join the ranks of these great diverters, please reach out.

Let’s Talk Recycling!

Case Study – Fisher Brewing’s Focus on Community Ensures Responsible Resource Use

When Tom Riemondy was asked why his brewery sends his company’s brewing waste to Wasatch Resource Recovery (“Wasatch”), he candidly responded, “because our wastewater permit requires it”. Tom hails from a family steeped in beer brewing history and is one of Fisher Brewing’s three founder-owners. Many microbreweries send their brewing waste down the drain, which can result in significant surcharges from wastewater treatment plants. Other breweries have their material hauled to landfills.

“While we might be small cookies in the overall scheme of things, it makes us feel good helping out the environment and our community.” – Tom Riemondy; Founder

While regulatory compliance is a requirement for all businesses, it is also true that Fisher Brewing’s founding principles promote a community minded focus. Making a conscious effort to route brewing waste to Wasatch’s anaerobic digestion project is indicative of the role Tom and his partners want to see their brewery play in the community. Instead of sending the material to a destination where the resource negatively impacts the community, he wanted to find a way to send the material to WRR where the end result is a renewable fuel source that replaces a fossil fuel. When reflecting on Fisher’s sustainability efforts, Tom states, “While we might be small cookies in the overall scheme of things it makes us feel good helping out the environment and our community.”

Good intentions aside, Fisher Brewery still needed to address some logistical challenges to achieve their waste diversion goals. Fortunately, Fisher, together with other breweries and distilleries, was able to convince their grease trap hauler to develop a separate route for brewing and distilling waste. Fisher fills 250 gallon plastic containers with the waste and their hauler uses a pump truck to remove the material from the containers. Wasatch couldn’t be happier with the situation- waste from alcohol production yields high volumes of gas and the material can be easily fed into the digesters. As Tom states, the brewery is able to, “stretch the use of resources to reduce their overall global impact”- certainly a worthy goal for individuals and organizations, alike!