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Food-Waste Energy Plant Will Double As A Compost-Maker, Cleanup Tool

Judy Fahys
Officials get ready to break ground Thursday on a new anaerobic disgester for food waste. The plant is a public-private partnership set to open in about 14 months from now in North Salt Lake.

A new facility is being built in North Salt Lake to turn food waste into energy. It’s the first of a kind in Utah.

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) helped kick off construction on Thursday.

The South Davis Sewer District has teamed up with a company called ALLPRO Energy & Water to build this energy facility that will also make compost.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Americans waste about 40 percent of their food.

“We’re able to capture that food waste and make something beneficial out of it,” says Morgan Bowerman, who’s working on the Wasatch Resource Recovery plant now being built.

Credit Courtesy / Wasatch Resource Recovery
Wasatch Resource Recovery
The Wasatch Resource Recovery plant will protect the environment from pollution associated with food waste and energy.

She says dozens of local groceries, restaurants, breweries and food manufacturers have already signed up to recycle their food waste here when the plant opens next year.

“We’ll heat it up and that will aid microbial growth,” she says. “And then those microbes will break down the food waste. And, when they break down without oxygen, they off-gas methane. So, these little microbes that already exist, they’re doing all the work for us, really.”

Alan Matheson, director of Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality, says the plant will help clean up the air, land and water.

“This is a project,” he says, “that will take almost a thousand tons a day of materials out of our landfills and turn it into clean, renewable fuels that can fuel our economy and our communities.”

That’s a daily output of millions of cubic feet of methane -- enough energy to power a city the size of Bountiful and to recoup the plant’s cost in energy sales. It’s also methane that won’t be contributing to the pollution blamed for climate change. 

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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