Here’s an overview of key news in the biogas and renewable natural gas (RNG) industries. Companies from different industries are shifting their traditional ways of operation towards an eco-friendly one that produces biogas.
WHERE THE US STANDS ON FEDERAL FOOD WASTE POLICY
While it may have been overshadowed by recycling commodity issues, and other big shifts in federal environmental policy, food waste is still on the agenda in Washington, D.C. and gaining momentum. That has been one of the key messages so far at this year’s U.S. Food Waste Summit — hosted by the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic (HFLPC) and ReFED in Cambridge, Massachusetts — among participants from business, government, philanthropic organizations and other sectors. Some of the more than 350 attendees even traveled internationally, with a wait list and livestream available for overflow.
WHITEHORSE COMPOST CONTRACT COMES IN COSTLIER THAN EXPECTED
Composting is pricier than city staff had anticipated, but it’s a critical component of the city’s waste removal plan. That’s what Jeff Quinsey, manager of water and waste for the City of Whitehorse, told council during the standing committees meeting on July 3. Quinsey asked council to increase the 2018 to 2020 operating budget to cover the cost of the program. The program, which aims to increase composting among food service businesses and multi-family buildings, began as a pilot project in 2013-14. More than 100 businesses have voluntarily participated since then.
DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE TEAMS WITH SUBARU FOR ZERO-LANDFILL INITIATIVE
Interior Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve has teamed up with Subaru for a zero-landfill initiative, which aims to turn trash into recycling. The duo began the initiative in 2016 and saw a drastic drop within the first year. In 2015, 392 tons of waste collected from the park was sent to local landfills, and in 2017, that number decreased to 244 tons. The park’s diversion rate also jumped to 22 percent in 2017 from 15 percent in 2015.
CITY MAY LOOK TO RECYCLE ORGANICS AS NEXT STEPS
Citywide composting could be the next step for the city of Rochester’s recycling program. The city plans to begin exploring the idea in the year ahead. The addition of organics would open a new avenue for the city program, which marks 30 years in September. Rochester got into the recycling business with a test program limited to newspapers, magazines and telephone books. At the time, those items represented the biggest part of the waste stream, totaling 21 percent of the tonnage collected. It would be another three years before recycling went citywide, with a $12 million effort involving 11 specially designed trucks and thousands of green recycling totes delivered to every household.
CASELLA SEEKS MAJOR EXPANSION OF VERMONT’S LAST LANDFILL
Casella has owned what it refers to as the Waste USA site since 1995. The site has one of the longest remaining lifespans of the company’s landfills, and CEO John Casella described it as a model for community relations. The landfill has grown multiple times in its decades of operation — including a 2004 expansion approval and a 2013 increase in permitted capacity — to become a critical piece of Vermont’s solid waste infrastructure. The property also includes two closed, unlined landfills within its 627-acre borders. It is now permitted for 600,000 tons per year (but hasn’t reached that maximum yet) and is estimated to have 148 acres of permitted or permittable landfill space. In addition, the site also has capacity to generate up to 8 MW of energy via a partnership with Washington Electric Co-op.
RNG PRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA BY CR&R FLOWS INTO SOCALGAS PIPELINES FOR THE FIRST TIME
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and waste management company CR&R Environmental (CR&R) announced they are now injecting renewable natural gas (RNG) produced at CR&R’s anaerobic digestion facility in Perris, Calif., into SoCalGas pipelines. This is the first RNG produced within California to be introduced into SoCalGas’ pipeline system, and it’s being used to fuel about 400 of CR&R’s waste hauling trucks. “SoCalGas is committed to delivering cost-effective solutions to our customers that both reduce emissions linked to climate change and keep energy bills affordable,” said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president of customer solutions and strategy, in a statement. “The relationship with CR&R is a great example of a smart investment by CR&R that delivers immediate and meaningful air quality improvements to communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.”
AIR LIQUIDE FINED £160,000 AFTER EXPOSING STAFF TO DANGEROUS VAPOURS AS WORKER ‘SAWED’ THROUGH BOTTLES
The company devised an in-house system to dispose of bottles at its Tunstall depot after failing to arranging for a specialist contractor to handle the disposal. It involved a man in a bomb disposal suit placing the bottles on to a box and two workers wearing breathing apparatus sawing through the bottles. But, on 7th February 2015 the two men using the saw were not wearing breathing apparatus when a small amount of liquid spilled out. They were left struggling to breathe and were taken to hospital but did not require treatment. Now the company has been fined £160,000 ($216,000) and ordered to pay £22,611.60 ($30,160.46) prosecution costs at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
BIOGAS DOUBLE DECKER TRIALLED IN IPSWICH
In Ipswich, Suffolk, a six week trial is underway for biogas fuelled double-decker buses on one of the city’s main transport routes. The trial began on 3 June, and has seen Ipswich Buses team up with Swedish commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania. The route for the trial runs from Ipswich’s town centre to Ipswich hospital. Developed by Scania in partnership with Alexander Dennis, a body building company, it is claimed that the biogas fuelled buses reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 84%. The vehicles operate on biogas produced from waste, including household waste and wastewater.
BIOMETHANE REFUELING STATION OPENS NEAR BORDEAUX
Air Liquide has recently inaugurated a biomethane production unit in Cestas, near Bordeaux, France. The new biomethane production unit uses organic matter from the agricultural sector to produce biogas, and purifies this biogas into biomethane. As well as the biomethane facility, Air Liquide has also set up a multi energy station near the site. Biomethane from the new facility will supply the multi energy station, which distributes bio-NGV (natural gas for vehicles). According to a statement from Air Liquide, the clean non-fossil fuel reduces fine particulates emissions by 85%, CO2 emissions by 90%, and noise pollution by up to 50%.
FOSSIL FUELS ON TRIAL: WHERE THE MAJOR CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUITS STAND TODAY
A wave of legal challenges that is washing over the oil and gas industry, demanding accountability for climate change, started as a ripple after revelations that ExxonMobil had long recognized the threat fossil fuels pose to the world. Over the past few years: Two states have launched fraud investigations into Exxon over climate change. Nine cities and counties, from New York to San Francisco, have sued major fossil fuel companies, seeking compensation for climate change damages. And determined children have filed lawsuits against the federal government and various state governments, claiming the governments have an obligation to safeguard the environment.