North State Bioenergy has recently been acquired by Republic Services, with the intention of entering the anaerobic digestion business. The facility is located 70 miles north of Sacramento in Oroville, California.
A First for the Company
This facility will allow Republic Services to integrate an anaerobic digester into its processing portfolio for the first time. The development comes as California works towards meeting the goals of SB 1383, which includes separating more organics from municipal waste streams to be sent to more dedicated facilities.
Chris Seney, director of organics operations at Republic, said “The organics space, it’s growing so rapidly, especially in California. Right now every city and every jurisdiction is getting a lot of pressure to roll out these programs. It’s an exciting time to be in organics.”
Goals to Follow
Republic Services’ new facility will process 100 tons of waste per day. It was developed in 2017 thanks to help from a state grant provided to North State Rendering and Biogas Energy Company, which is a family company run by Chris Ottone. Ottone’s family had been owner and operator of the rendering plant for decades, but the passage of California AB 1826 required businesses to begin recycling organic waste.
State Act SB 1383
The state passed SB 1383 in 2016, setting a goal of diverting 75% of organic waste from landfills by 2025. Republics’ acquisition of the facility comes in the middle of the additions to organics and recycling legislation and creates new sources of feedstock in California. These goals, however, require almost doubling the state’s organic recycling capacity. As of 2019, a report from CalRecycle and Integrated Waste Management Consulting found the capacity of composters and anaerobic digesters needed to be doubled to process extra waste.
Despite having roughly 160 permitted composting facilities, and more than a dozen anaerobic digestion facilities in 2019, operators at the time said they were hesitant to scale up facilities without dedicated feedstocks.
Seney said that there just wasn’t a lot of volume or statewide mandates. Additionally, programs weren’t getting rolled out to every hotel, grocery store, and restaurant. “That’s what’s happening now in California.” He concluded.
Phased in by this law was an organic waste collection service mandate for every jurisdiction in California starting in 2022.
The results for Republic Services
Since the law took effect, Seney has been busy pursuing projects to increase capacity. Republic Services is currently in possession of 12 composting facilities throughout the country, half of these are in California.
Republic Services also operates three commercial food waste pre-processing sites in California. One of their preprocessing sites, located in Sacramento, previously had a contract with the newly acquired anaerobic digester.
Back to Oroville
The facility located in Oroville is powered by 200 MMBtus of biogas generated on-site per day; it also has a fueling station that according to Seney, could be used to power trucks moving between the Sacramento site and the digester. There is apparently also potential to build a pipeline gas connection on-site moving forward.
Republic Services has a long-term goal of increasing the circularity and recovery of materials by 40% by 2030, in part through the recycling of organics. They are also working to increase the recovery of greenhouse gases created through its landfills.
They have also partnered with Archaea (owned by BP), in order to build out renewable gas systems.
Seney has said that Republic Services will continue to look into additional opportunities to develop or acquire new anaerobic digesters, though he also noted that the market is currently small without many facilities to acquire.