Fats, oils and grease (COLLectively, FOG) and commercial food scraps are the best Anaerobic Digestion feedstocks:
They have greater biomethane potential than other organic residuals
They are consistently recoverable in close proximity to all water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) that operate anaerobic digesters, many of which have existing excess capacity to receive organics
They are available in every city and town, regardless of season
Landfill diversion has value for most recovered waste, but the early-supply-chain value of FOG diversion is incomparably greater than other feedstocks because of its potential detriment to sewage collection and treatment systems
However, only 150 of our nation’s 15,000 wastewater treatment plants are recovering FOG and commercial food waste scraps for clean biogas production. They are proportionally the most under-recovered municipal wastes.
what’s wrong with Commercial Organics, and why aren’t we recovering it at higher rates?
Some reasons, such as competing energy prices and uncertain RIN markets, are industry-wide, but the major reasons are some fundamental risks that result from local supply-chain flaws:
feedstock reliability, short and long-term - growing regional competition for feedstocks makes deliveries uncertain and codigestion investments risky
feedstock quality - with no knowledge of or control over the supply chain, feedstock cleanliness, operational risks, and biomethane potential are uncertain
uncertain revenues from tipping - competing regional disposal and resource recovery options will continue to drive down tipping markets and revenues, but by how much?
Collectively, the supply chain uncertainties associated with dependence on distributed feedstocks like FOG drive us to secure more targeted and reliable feedstocks like agricultural, dairy, and large industrial food waste sources, even if they have significantly lower BMP. We can secure these large targeted feedstocks through agreements with waste generators, but the security of organics from commercial sources depends on the hauling industry’s ability to consolidate small distributed generators into large reliable sources and guarantee its delivery…or does it?
A Systems Approach to Sustainable Resource Recovery
At BlueBridge, we believe that we’re leaving too many chips on the table by giving up on FOG and distributed commercial food waste as AD feedstock, so we question the typical process for securing these consolidated organics using tipping markets. We believe the industry’s re-acquisition vision for commercial organics has been tunneled at the end of the supply chain, leaving us no alternative to competing for a resource in a market designed for waste.
The BlueBridge vision sees the organics supply chain from kitchen to digester as a system with many parts - utility regulation, waste management at the premise, transport, delivery, and digestion. We solve the AD supply-chain problems by consolidating organics within our communities using resource recovery cooperatives, which dissolve the disadvantages of distributed feedstocks by:
securing them for the short and long-term using market value at the restaurant service point, including wholesale service discounts, service quality assurance, and compliance-assurance
establishing municipal acquisition and ownership of recoverable waste at the distributed sources, and partnering with haulers simply to physically consolidate and deliver it for codigestion
delivering better feedstock quality by working with restaurants at the premise, and overseeing the total supply chain system from collection at the restaurant to delivery at the digester, through bundled contracts with haulers
creating greater opportunity for AD cost recovery by applying tip fees directly to the restaurant waste generator rather than the hauler, and eliminating price interference from volatile waste disposal markets
accounting for the early-supply-chain value of AD projects by quantifying the collection system benefits of FOG recovery during the BridgeBuilder planning process
BlueBridge supports AD projects with feedstock security and delivery beginning with a total-supply-chain assessment of cost recovery using the BridgeBuilder process. Cooperative resource recovery is unique in its ability to identify and quantify measurable benefits to sewage collection systems from AD projects. BlueBridge works with utility pretreatment, collection system, and asset management program staff to quantify these values and make sure they are reasonably reflected in the AD project’s financial analysis. Additionally, lower feedstock risk and better supply-chain revenue opportunity are reflected in BridgeBuilder economics. We believe that creating and quantifying the total-supply-chain value of organics recovery creates a much more accurate and compelling case for FOG and other commercial organics as a preferred feedstock.
Feedstock Security and Reliability
BlueBridge helps develop authorities, contracts, and marketing strategies to establish effective municipal/private high strength restaurant waste (HSRW) recovery cooperatives. Beyond supporting their development of FOG and food scrap management and recovery programs, BlueBridge offers municipalities full administration of HSRW recovery brokerage and administration. BlueBridge can deliver turn-key brokerage for the entire recovery supply chain between community restaurants and codigestion facilities, or simply guide cities through the development and deployment of their internal programs. Either way, cooperative resource recovery solves the disadvantages of distributed feedstocks.
Contact us at BlueBridge to learn more about how resource recovery cooperatives can bring lower risk and greater return to your AD project, while also creating identifiable and measurable benefit to upstream sewer infrastructure.