Poster 173 – Click on poster below to view presentation from author.
University of Vermont
Co-Authors: Matthew Scarborough, Eric Roy
Food waste diversion programs are becoming increasingly common at state and local levels as a means to reduce landfill methane emissions and recover organic resources. Anaerobic digestion can be used to convert food waste to valuable coproducts (i.e. biogas and digestate fertilizers), however many pre- and post-consumer food waste streams are mixed with plastics and other packaging materials that would disrupt the digestion process. Mechanical depackaging systems separate food waste into an organic and non-organic stream, creating opportunities to divert additional organic waste streams to anaerobic digestion. However, there are potential challenges associated with microplastics formation that remain largely unquantified. We evaluated biochemical methane potential (BMP) and other key anaerobic digestion parameters (TS, TVS, COD, N, P, S, pH) as well as microplastics (>500 um) content for organic slurry produced at a full-scale depackaging installation located in Williston, VT. In order to capture the variability in waste stream composition, we collected organic slurry samples on five separate days from a relatively homogenous pre-consumer waste stream (off-spec Ben & Jerry’s pints) as well as a more heterogeneous post-consumer waste stream (commercial food scraps). Collectively, these metrics will indicate the suitability of the two waste streams for anaerobic digestion, and help determine if additional processing steps are needed to reduce microplastics contamination levels.
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