Temple recently installed a food digester and I had the privilege of being interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer about the project.
You can read my comments in the attached article. My quotes are accurate and I commend the reporter on her diligence in tracking down the end use of the food. In this case, the food is simply being pushed into a glorified garbage disposal.
I have nothing against digestion for methane production. Using food resources from kitchen prep and post consumer food in digesters is a reasonable means of recycling the resource. To be clear, this is not composting…but it is recycling.
Composting of food materials produces a valuable soil amendment that is, in my opinion, the highest and best use of food. Notwithstanding this, it is incredibly difficult to site such a facility. They are also labor intensive (in some cases) and can be costly to operate.
Anerobic digesters are certainly more “hi tech” and can take a wider variety of materials.
The claim that the digester at Temple is beneficial to the environment is partially correct in that it does not require the movement of the food in trucks. But it does consume more water…thus energy, and requires that the treatment plant consume energy to process it with no energy or fuel return.
So, having said this, what Ms. Williams reported was an accurate description of the system.
Should this be the future? I think that the comments regarding cost being the driver argue against it. One can be environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable…The system at Temple is neither in the macro picture.
Read the full article:
Temple’s food waste digesters disrupting the industry or just ‘shifting the burden’?