Manteca is moving a step closer to being able to separate food waste from packaging.
In doing so, it will be able to divert food waste for use in composting.
The City Council last week awarded a $387,762 bid to TNT Industrial Contractors to do the electrical and plumbing work necessary to get the city’s recently acquired F2E/Food Waste Processing Mega THOR Food Separator Project installed and up and running at the Lovelace Transfer Station just north of Manteca.
The food separator was bought with the help of an $800,000 Cal Recycle grant.
Once the food waste is separated from packaging it is transformed into a puree. It is then transported to a composting operation.
It is part of the city’s ongoing effort to divert food waste from been buried.
The initial effort started more than five years ago with orange carts being placed at restaurants, grocery stores and institutions that have extensive food service such as schools and hospitals to collect food waste.
The city in August 2019 started powering some solid waste trucks by food waste.
The infrastructure for Manteca’s cutting edge food waste to fuel endeavor was built in conjunction with the wastewater treatment improvement project as well as the compressed biogas fueling facility.
The end result of the process means:
*food waste instead of being buried is being used to power solid waste trucks.
*the biogas the trucks use is a clean burning fuel as opposed to diesel.
*methane gas produced from the wastewater treatment process instead of being burned off and contributing to air quality issues is instead being combined with food waste to produce biogas fuel.
The project was made possible in a fairly cost effective way due to several reasons.
First and foremost, the public works staff was looking for ways to reduce long range solid waste and wastewater treatment plant costs as well as to meet state mandates to avoid potential future fines. Instead of taking a narrow focus they took a holistic approach.
The fact the city has its own wastewater treatment plant and is one of the relatively few in California that still have its own in-city solid waste collection operation made the project feasible.
The solid waste digesters were in need of overhauling. The city ended up building two new digesters and has rehabbed the older ones to accommodate future growth.
Manteca has also put in place an effective food waste collection program for schools and commercial customers such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and schools orange carts.
It was started in 2017. Manteca Unified schools, as an example, have student volunteers that monitor lunchrooms to make sure food waste is separated from other garbage as students bus their lunch trays and sack lunches. As a result, food waste from the schools is extremely good meaning contamination is at a minimum.
While the food waste to fuel apparatus was being built the collected food waste was used by a Lathrop firm to make compost.
Manteca is working on other projects that will help make the wastewater treatment process more cost effective or ratepayers as well as to enhance recycling of solid waste.
The city is also working on a composting operation that would combine residential food waste, yard debris, and items such as newspapers and boxes such as those used for cereal and such. The city would then use the compost for city parks and such. In doing so, the city will eliminate being at the whims of the international markets for recycled materials.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org