Vanguard Renewables reaches major climate milestones

By Vanguard Renewables | April 20, 2022

Vanguard Renewables, a Boston-based organics-to-renewable energy company, has a lot to celebrate this Earth Day. Since 2014, Vanguard’s Farm Powered solution, which captures greenhouse gas emissions from dairy manure and food and beverage waste to create renewable energy, has mitigated nearly 500,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and recycled more than 831,000 tons of organic waste, or the equivalent of the weight of more than 5,000 Statues of Liberty, at their Farm Powered anaerobic digesters.

To put the greenhouse gas emissions numbers into perspective, it is the equivalent of any one of the following statistics:

    •Taking more than 104,000 cars off the road for one year

    •Planting nearly 8 million trees

    •Generating the power to charge more than 160 million individuals’ cell phones for one year

The company partners with food and beverage manufacturers including Cabot Creamery, Polar Beverages, and Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever) to divert their inedible food and beverage waste to one of Vanguard's six Farm Powered anaerobic digesters located on generational dairy farms in Massachusetts and Vermont.

“When I founded Vanguard Renewables, I wanted to reinvent how our country deals with food waste because we don’t do it very well,” said John Hanselman, founder and chief strategy officer, Vanguard Renewables. “More than 50 million tons of food is sent to landfills and incinerators annually in the US. This is equivalent to 1,000 R.M.S. Titanics filled with food waste every year. I am so proud to share how our partnerships with farms and food and beverage manufacturers are chipping away at the climate crisis by turning waste into a force for good one dairy farm at a time.”

Vanguard Renewables is doubling down on its mission to help reduce carbon emissions by building an additional 100 anaerobic digesters on dairy farms in major metro markets across the U.S. by 2026. Since its founding in 2014, the company has produced more than 82,000 MWh (megawatt hours) of renewable electricity and nearly 75,000 MMBTU (million British thermal units) of renewable natural gas.

“It’s a team effort; our accomplishments are not possible without our dairy farm and food and beverage waste partners like Cabot Creamery,” said Neil H. Smith, CEO, Vanguard Renewables. “Due to our operational track record and the trust of our partners, Vanguard is uniquely positioned to help our nation reach its aggressive emissions goals by 2030.”

New England-based Cabot Creamery, a food industry sustainability leader, was an early adopter of diverting inedible organic waste from a municipal wastewater treatment plant to Vanguard Renewables’ Farm Powered anaerobic digesters and purchasing energy derived from the waste to power its facilities. Since working with Vanguard Renewables to recycle their organic waste, Cabot has recycled nearly 30,000 tons of inedible food waste and purchased nearly 37 million kilowatts of energy to power their plants.

This effort has mitigated approximately 17,000 tons of greenhouse gas, which is the equivalent of taking nearly 4,000 cars off the road annually, planting more than 275,000 trees, and greater than 5.5 million individuals charging their cell phones every year. Additionally, the unavoidable waste from Cabot’s manufacturing operations has produced enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 681,000 buses annually. Adding to that impact, Cabot purchases a portion of the energy their waste generates at the farm-based anaerobic digesters to power their manufacturing facility in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

“We value our collaboration with Vanguard Renewables as a model of how to use on-farm anaerobic digestion technology to optimize the value of cow manure while reducing food waste and generating renewable energy,” noted Bill Beaton, CEO of Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Co-operative. “This is a wonderful example of our farms and our manufacturing facilities cooperating to create award-winning, closed-loop solutions.”

Vanguard Renewables’ Farm Powered anaerobic digesters are located on generational dairy farms, recycling food waste and daily manure into renewable energy. Byproducts of the anaerobic digestion process include a low-carbon, highly nutrient, and nearly odorless liquid fertilizer that saves Vanguard’s farm partners the substantial expense of purchasing now costly chemical fertilizers and supports regenerative agriculture practices; another byproduct is bedding for the herd that is recycled in the digester.