FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 1, 2022
CONTACT: Erica Cunningham | [email protected] | 202. 427.1357
U.S. EPA Grant designed to help expand nationwide capacity to use organic food waste processing methods
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Department of Public Works (DPW) Office of Waste Diversion was recently selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help the District’s food waste diversion efforts. The funding, anticipated to be at least $150,000, will train and certify commercial food waste generators to set up successful source-separated organics programs that will divert food waste away from landfills, and to anaerobic digesters for processing.
DPW was one of several jurisdictions that applied for grant funding that totaled $2 million. The exact amount of DPW’s grant is to be determined, but the Office of Waste Diversion requested $152,000 to help establish the training and certification program.
“This innovative new program will be a further boost toward achieving Mayor Bowser’s Zero Waste goals, as it will train and certify businesses as ‘Food Waste Ready’ using innovative new tools and strategies,” said DPW Interim Director Mike Carter. “This will not only inspire restaurants, chefs, and other large generators of food waste to learn how to divert all food waste away from landfills, but will also directly support the growing anaerobic digestion infrastructure in the Washington metropolitan area.”
Under anaerobic digestion, microorganisms break down organic materials, such as food scraps, manure, and sewage sludge, in the absence of oxygen. The process produces biogas, a renewable energy source, and digestate, a nutrient-rich product used for fertilizer.
Anaerobic digestion is a strategy included in EPA’s food recovery hierarchy that is preferable to landfilling and incineration because it both saves money for disposal and reduces environmental impacts. By decreasing the amount of wasted food in landfills, anaerobic digestion reduces landfill methane emissions, which in turn reduces the impacts of climate change, according to the EPA. Methane traps 28 to 36 times more heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period than carbon dioxide.
“Anaerobic digestion is an important way to ensure essential nutrients are recirculated into our ecosystems,” said Deputy Assistant Administrator for the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management Carlton Waterhouse. “This kind of innovation helps communities reduce food waste that could end up in landfills while capturing methane for use, instead of having it go into the atmosphere.”
EPA evaluated applicants on how their projects addressed numerous factors resulting from industrial, governmental, commercial, and/or other actions: human health, environmental, social, climate-related, and other cumulative impacts, and accompanying economic challenges of such impacts. The EPA will bestow the awards once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.
DPW provides essential city services in two distinct program areas: environmental services/solid waste management and parking enforcement. Both contribute to making our District streets and public spaces clean, safe, attractive and accessible for all residents, businesses, commuters and visitors.