- The nonprofit waste and recycling organization ecomaine has signed a five-year contract with Exeter Agri-Energy and Agri-Cycle Energy to offer food waste recovery in southern Maine, as reported by The Forecaster.
- Ecomaine will offer food waste collection to its 57 member communities through small kitchen buckets. The organization expects to collect 50 to 100 tons per week to start and charge approximately $55 per ton.
- The material would be taken to Exeter Agri-Energy's anaerobic digestion facility and mixed with manure. This facility can generate 4 million BTUs of heat per hour and 23,500 kilowatt hours per day.
Ecomaine processes about 175,000 tons per year at its waste-to-energy facility and another 45,000 tons per year at its single-stream recycling facility. This regional operation is one of the largest in the state and has recently been considered as an option for municipalities that haven't signed on to the planned Fiberight waste-to-energy facility farther north.
While ecomaine has offered some form of composting service in the past, this new program would be on a much larger scale. Agreements are still being worked out with communities, but so far interest seems positive. The city of South Portland's sustainability coordinator said food waste collection could help reach their goal of 40% diversion by 2019 and potentially save $40,000 per year in tipping fees.
Food waste collection is an increasingly popular concept, but many in the industry are still working to find a balance between costs and environmental benefits. The fact that Exeter Agri-Energy's digesters aren't solely dependent on the material and ecomaine has a long track record in the region should help this partnership get off to a solid start.