By JEN CARDINES
Southington is now home to Connecticut’s first food waste-to-renewable-energy facility, bringing cutting edge technology and a new spin on recycling.
Quantum Biopower, located at the site of the former town landfill at 49 DePaolo Dr., celebrated the completion of Connecticut’s first anaerobic digester with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
The State of Connecticut set a goal to reduce, reuse, and recycle 60 percent of its waste by the year 2024. With food being the largest and least recycled portion of waste, Quantum’s anaerobic digester can help keep waste management on track to meet these goals.
Quantum’s Vice President and managing director Brian Paganini said that this technology is not actually new and has been around in various forms for hundreds of years.
“We have simply applied different pieces of technology and equipment to solve a recycling and renewable energy issue,” he said. After three years of development, the digester is completed and will soon be available to turn food waste into renewable electricity.
The State of Connecticut’s food waste diversion mandate requires that certain food waste generators producing more than two tons of food waste per week separate the waste from their other garbage and send it to a compost facility or digester for recycling. This mandate was a driving force in the development and completion of the digester.
Once up and running, the facility will divert 40,000 tons of food waste per year from the waste stream for more environmentally responsible management through recycling. The facility will produce 1.2 megawatts of clean renewable electricity and 10,000 tons per year of premium organic compost.
Quantum is under contract with local food waste generators including Shop Rite, the Aqua Turf Club, and the Farmington Club.
“Quantum is working on increasing recycling with folks who don’t fall under the mandate, such as schools, institutions, and even municipal curbside food waste recycling programs,” Paganini said. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) worked with Quantum from the beginning to complete the permitting process.
“The partnerships with our food waste suppliers are unique in every instance,” said Paganini. “To boil it down, many of these folks are forward thinking and want to recycle food from their trash stream. They could save a little money, enhance their recycling programs, and maintain compliance with the state mandate.”
The press release stated that Quantum received a $2 million, low-interest loan from the Connecticut Green Bank toward the $14 million state-of -the- art project. Further, the Town of Southington has partnered in the project by agreeing to purchase the energy produced by the facility to supply various government buildings in town through the virtual net metering program.
Paganini said that the facility needs a couple of months to gradually build and grow the biology that is necessary to process food waste. They expect to be operating for the new year.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.