Kroger Converts Food Waste to Power, Uses Existing Trucks

by | May 16, 2013

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Kroger digesterKroger will use an anaerobic conversion system from Feed Resource Recovery to convert waste food into energy to help power its Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center in Compton, Calif.

The anaerobic conversion system will process more than 55,000 tons of organic food waste into renewable energy annually (300,000 pounds daily), providing power for the 650,000-sq-foot distribution center. By diverting the food waste, the system will also reduce area truck trips by more than 500,000 miles each year.

A spokesman for Feed Resource Recovery explained that individual supermarkets have regular food waste, but it’s expensive to ship that waste to local waste-to-energy facilities. By siting the anaerobic system at the Ralphs distribution center, the same Kroger trucks that deliver food to grocery stores can bring food waste back.

The Kroger Recovery System uses anaerobic digestion, a naturally occurring process, to transform food that cannot be sold or donated along with 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 percent of the energy demand of the Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center. It produces 360,000 equivalent cubic feet of natural gas per day or 360 MMBtu per day of energy.

The digester will result in an 18.5 percent return on investment for Kroger, and the company says it will recoup its investment within five years.

The Kroger distribution center also uses more than 150 zero-emission fuel cell fork-lifts.

Ace Hardware recently deployed 65 fuel cell units from Plug Power for its fleet of electric lift trucks at its newest retail distribution center in Wilmer, Texas. With the fuel cell units, Ace Hardware eliminates the need to charge batteries from an electrical source, saving money on electricity and reducing peak power costs.

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