Every year, it seems like the food waste problem is getting worse faster than it can get better. As much as people want to buy all of the food off of the shelves before it goes bad, there’s just too much. As much as people want to ship the food to people or places that have less, it will barely make the journey. And as much as people want to dispose of their waste as efficiently as possible, there just isn’t a great infrastructure for it.
Yet it never gets less painful watching tons and tons of food fill up plastic bags and landfills.
Efforts around the world are skyrocketing to try and find good solutions to this problem, although so far, most of the proposals seem too little too late. But one solution might finally hold the key to making a real difference: food-fueled biogas. And the city of Toronto plans to maximize its potential, as fast as possible – starting with the waste collectors themselves.
According to a recent announcement from Toronto city officials, the city has legislated four pre-planned waste-to-RNG (Renewable Natural Gas) production schemes for the coming years; all of which will be made possible by their recently constructed Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility.
The first of the four plans is for garbage collection. Starting in March 2020, all of the city’s garbage trucks will revert to power from biogas produced by the same trash that they collect. The waste and food scraps gathered from the Green Bins all around the city will then be brought to the facility for processing, where it will create biogas collected by anaerobic digesters that transform it into renewable natural gas. The trucks will then fuel their tanks with it right then and there before heading back out.
The city is also exploring options to irrigate renewable natural gas from the facility’s natural gas pipeline to fueling stations and even homes and businesses to provide heat and electricity.
As the city officials explained, “RNG is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels such as diesel. [And] RNG generated from food waste is actually considered carbon-negative, because the reduction in emissions by not extracting and burning petroleum-based fuel, and the emissions avoided by not sending organics to landfill, exceed the direct emissions associated with the production and use of RNG.”
Toronto will be the first city in North America to see this potential through to a tangible plan and hopes others will follow in its stead soon.