Farm Powered Strategic Alliance Grows, Turns Food Waste to Renewable Energy

Food Waste RNG

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Dec 6, 2022

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Food Waste RNG

(Credit: Pixabay)

Great Lakes Cheese has joined the growing Farm Powered Strategic Alliance, which aims to boost food waste recycling and expand renewable energy production in the United States.

The partnership, which was founded by Vanguard Renewables in 2020, now has 15 members from the US food industry, including Unilever, Starbucks, and the Dairy Farmers of America. The program commits to diverting organic food waste from the manufacturing process and diverting it to Vanguard’s on-farm anaerobic digesters where it is recycled with dairy cow manure through anaerobic digestion to create renewable natural gas (RNG).

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 30% to 40% of food can be lost before it reaches market. The EPA estimates 133 billion pounds of food in the US is wasted and is the largest component of daily trash.

That has created a need to eliminate waste and find other uses for discarded organic materials. Turning that waste into a renewable energy source has become more of a focus, such as biofuels or converting it into heat and energy.

Each member of the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance commits to capturing food waste from farming, manufacturing, and the sale of food products and then recycling that waste on farms, Vanguard says. The company says it also works with the suppliers of alliance members to recycle their food waste.

Vanguard then recycles food waste and animal manure to RNG through anaerobic digestors. The company has several RNG operations and projects throughout the US.

Eliminating food waste and finding other uses for it is becoming more common in the industry. Alliance member Unilever has a goal to cut its food waste in half by 2050 and has increased its reuse rate by 20% aided by programs to turn old resources into materials into alternative fuels or raw materials for processes such as cement production.

Beverage company Oatly has used renewable energy certificates from a biodigester that receives oat fiber residue from the company’s oat milk production. That is combined with other food waste to produce RNG which has helped produce renewable energy to power Oatly facilities. Regulations have also attempted to crack down on discarded food such as a law in California that went into effect this year that aims to reduce organic waste by 75% in the state.

Great Lakes Cheese has nine processing plants in Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Utah, Tennessee, and Texas. The company has committed to increasing its renewable energy supply beyond solar and hydropower sources, as well as reducing plastic waste and conserving water.

Other Farm Powered Strategic Alliance members include Stonyfield Organic, Cabot Creamery, Smithfield Foods, Food Tank, Chobani, Kikkoman, Schreiber Foods, Hillebrand, Polar Beverages, Vermont Creamery, and Johnsonville.

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