The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority is ramping up its program collecting food waste from institutional and large commercial waste generators and turning it into energy.
The authority plans an open house Friday morning at its source-separated organics processing facility. The $3.4 million facility will take in waste food from institutional and large commercial locations, separate out packaging, convert it to a slurry, and send it next door to an anaerobic digester at the Oneida County solid waste facility. There, methane from sewage treatment and the food waste will power an electric generator.
The facility is at the authority’s waste and recycling center on Leland Avenue Ext. in Utica.
The authority has been testing its collection system and watching what comes in from a few early-adopting waste generators to make sure loads don’t contain anything that might damage the processing equipment, according to Executive Director William Rabbia. He expects generators to join the program gradually, taking advantage of the reduced fee for food waste separated from regular garbage destined for a landfill, and for trash haulers to build density on their collection routes.
It’s another step in reducing what’s landfilled. Food waste is 20 to 25 percent of what’s typically landfilled. Having the processing facility and collection system in place will help prepare for a state law taking effect Jan. 1, 2022 requiring anyone who generates an annual average of two tons a week of food scraps at a single location to donate edible leftovers to food banks or recycle it through a food waste facility.
The legislation exempts New York City, hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and elementary and secondary schools, and other generators can get an annual waiver by showing recycling is not “reasonably competitive” with a landfill.
Eligible recycling facilities can be makers of animal feed, composters and those that ferment waste or turn it into ethanol.