Food waste-to-energy plant proposed in N.J.

By Anna Austin | May 12, 2011

Building on its core organic waste collection business, a New Jersey company plans to construct a food waste-to-energy plant in the Lakewood Industrial Park in Lakewood, N.J.

Rocco D’Antonio, founder of Organic Diversion LLC, said it is still early in the planning process, but when it’s built the plant would expand the company’s horizons beyond its current focus on compost production. “For the past two years, we’ve been building our collection business, and we do operational analyses of commercial food waste generators and put together operation plans,” he said. “We bring in the appropriate containers, we conduct all the training and following training for the account, and with our own trucks we come in and collect the material as scheduled.”  

The next step is to build the receiving facility to convert collected food waste into energy through an anaerobic digestion process, D’Antonio said. The facility would have a capacity of about 60,000 tons of organic waste per year, generating a gross electrical output of about 2 megawatts. The plant would also capture and recycle waste heat.

D’Antonio said the company hasn’t decided yet what to do with the power it will produce, but plugging it into the grid is one possibility.

During the planning, D’Antonio said, preventing odor has been a large part of the process since day one. “Whenever you are talking about any type of organic processing, odor is an issue,” he said. “Odor management has been part of our operating plan and design from very early on, because there have been too many facilities shut down because of odors. We decided if we were going to do something in a very densely populated area like New Jersey, we had to make sure that we were very confident that we wouldn’t have an issue.”

D’Antonio said the company is currently working through the permitting process, but couldn’t say how long that would take.