Republic Services, Phoenix, has opened its first Northern California organics pre-processing facility, which the company says will help Bay Area communities meet the requirements of a new state law mandating diversion of food and yard waste from landfills.
The facility is designed to remove contamination from food waste collected from businesses in Contra Costa County and will produce clean organic material that is converted into renewable energy through a partnership with the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
"As a leader in the environmental services industry, Republic Services is committed to recovering key materials from the waste stream and providing diversion solutions for our customers," said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability. "Organics is an emerging sector, especially in California, providing tremendous potential for us to both grow our business and strengthen the circular economy."
A state law (SB 1383) that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022, will require every home and business in California to recycle their food and yard waste. More than 500 business customers participate in food waste recycling through the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority's RecycleSmart program, which delivers food waste to Republic's Martinez facility.
The new facility is capable of processing 20 tons of food waste per hour. It is Republic’s second organics pre-processing operation in the state, following the opening of the company’s first facility in Anaheim in 2018. Republic is also pursuing additional similar opportunities throughout the state.
"Republic Services has been a service provider for RecycleSmart for over 20 years, and they have always been innovative in their approach to recycling," said Ken Etherington, executive director of RecycleSmart. "We are very excited about Republic's new pre-processing line to advance recycling in the community."
After pre-processing, clean organic material is delivered to the East Bay Municipal Utility District's wastewater treatment facility in Oakland. Through anaerobic digestion, the organic waste is converted into biogas, which is used to generate electricity to power the treatment facility as well as operations at the neighboring Port of Oakland.
"This pre-processing model is anticipated to expand opportunities for EBMUD to receive more of this type of material and increase renewable energy production in the future," said John Hake, a senior civil engineer at the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
In 2020, Republic Services was named Organics Recycler of the Year by the National Waste & Recycling Association, a recognition of the company's innovation and leadership in diverting food and yard waste from landfills. According to the company, organics recycling directly supports Republic's sustainability goal to increase recovery of key materials from the waste stream by 40 percent by 2030.