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  • Allison Stalker

Turning Food Waste into Electricity

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The Kroger Co., a California based grocery chain, has plans for a new method of dealing with the huge amount of food waste grocery stores produce. The company has built an industrial silo where outdated food will be stored. Bacteria will consume the food and release methane. The methane will then be burned to generate electricity. The Kroger Recovery System will not only cut back on food waste, it will also cut the power bill.

The food to energy plant was built in Compton, California at a distribution center that serves hundreds of Ralphs and Food 4 Less grocery stores. According to the company, “The Kroger Recovery System utilizes anaerobic digestion, a naturally occurring process, to transform unsold organics and onsite food-processing effluent into renewable biogas. This biogas is then turned into power for onsite operations. The process is carried out in an enclosed, oxygen-free environment, which means the process takes up less space and generates no odors. The system will provide enough renewable biogas to offset more than 20% of the energy demand of the Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center”.

The system was designed and will be operated by FEED Resource Recovery Inc., a Boston company focused on clean technology.

“We are committed to finding solutions for food waste and clean energy, and we believe this is a meaningful step forward,” said Rodney McMullen , President and COO, The Kroger Co. “Investing in this project is a good business decision for Kroger and, most importantly, an extraordinary opportunity to benefit the environment. We want to thank Governor Brown and his team at CalRecycle and CalEPA, the City of Compton, the SCAQMD, and most importantly the team at FEED for making this renewable energy project a reality”.

Food waste is a gigantic problem in this country; the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 40% of the food in the U.S. goes uneaten. This uneaten food contributes 25% of the country’s methane emissions. Utilizing this food waste to create methane that can then be used for energy is a superb plan. Additionally, the sludge left over from the silo will be used as agricultural compost.

The system will process more than 55,000 tons of organic food waste into renewable energy each year and power the 650,000 square foot distribution center. On top of that, the system will also eliminate 500,000 miles of truck trips each year, further reducing emissions.

This system is a great step towards cutting back on food waste and utilizing renewable energy.

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