Grind2Energy Turns Food Waste Into Energy

Grind2Energy food waste
Illustration by Matt Stevens

Thundering applause. Palpable excitement. Large-scale events are marked by common elements, but one universal feature exists just behind the scenes: food waste. As attendance numbers pile up, so does the food waste.

But Grind2Energy, Emerson’s innovative large-scale food waste recycling system, is putting food waste to work—by converting it into energy. Because more food waste leads to more energy, the impact at large venues like the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland can really add up. In fact, at the recent Republican National Convention, the center generated over two tons of waste.

Through Grind2Energy’s innovative process, large amounts of food waste from kitchens or from crowds at these facilities is ground on-site using an industrial-strength InSinkErator® grinder, which is then converted into a slurry. The quasar energy group, a full waste-to-energy company, transports this material to one of their local anaerobic digestion facilities to extract methane for energy production and to produce a nutrient-rich soil amendment.

“We’re committed to being as green as we can, and Grind2Energy helps us achieve that in ways we never thought possible,” said Mark J. Leahy, general manager of the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and Global Center for Health Innovation. “As a large and busy event space with multiple kitchens going every day, Grind2Energy is an area where we can make a big impact—on our food waste, energy and the planet.”

The environmental benefit is significant, and that impact adds up for bigger venues: Commercial kitchens produce on average more than 4,000 pounds of food waste a week. Food waste is a major issue across the globe—as much as one-third of the food we produce globally is wasted each year, according to United Nations estimates. Sending 15 million tons of food waste to anaerobic digesters instead of landfills – about half of the food waste discarded each year – can remove the carbon emissions equivalent of about half a million automobiles.

“Cleveland has emerged as a strong partner and leader in the effort to expand this ground-breaking technology to turn global food waste into a renewable energy,” said Chad Severson, president of InSinkErator, a business of Emerson. “We hope more cities follow their example of environmental stewardship and advocacy.”

The Cleveland Convention Center is just one of many local institutions to introduce the Grind2Energy system. Grind2Energy came to the city in a major-league way when the Cleveland Browns put the technology to use at FirstEnergy Stadium in 2013; the Cleveland Indians brought the service to Progressive Field in 2014. Area businesses have taken notice as well: J*A*C*K Cleveland Casino implemented Grind2Energy in May 2015.

Results from Cleveland and other Grind2Energy early adopters have demonstrated the solution’s ability to reduce landfill waste, generate significant energy from renewable resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, all at costs equal to or less than composting or other environmentally friendly options.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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