MassDEP Approves Stop & Shop's Innovative Project in Freetown to Recover Energy From Unwanted Food Product
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today issued the permits necessary to begin an innovative project in Freetown that will recover energy from food waste. This project responds to the Patrick Administration's plan to divert food waste from landfills and incinerators into anaerobic digesters in order to generate renewable energy and save landfill space.
The project approved involves the construction of a Product Recovery Operation (PRO) at the Stop & Shop Distribution Center, located on South Main Street in Freetown. The PRO utilizes anaerobic digestion to recover the economic value in unsold food products to produce electricity and heat for this facility, as well as generating a fertilizer byproduct.
"I am delighted that Stop & Shop has been able to use MassDEP's new permitting process and put forward a cutting-edge project to tap into the hidden energy value of unsold food," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. "This project is forward-looking and a good model for other institutions seeking to find productive uses for their organic materials. The creation of renewable energy from organics is an exciting growth industry within the Commonwealth."
Stop & Shop, while already diverting its unsold food to composting and animal feed facilities, proposed the project to provide greater environmental and economic benefit by converting organic material into electricity and soil re-use material. Following its review, MassDEP has issued approval for two permits, a recycling composting and conversion (RCC) permit and an air quality plan approval for the facility's biogas generator.
The operation will process an average of 95 tons per day of unsold food product and has the capacity to produce 1.137 megawatts (MW) for electrical power and heating purposes, providing up to 40 percent of the distribution center's on-site electrical power needs and back-up power in the event of an outage.
"We have worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection and Freetown officials to make our proposed Freetown Product Recovery Operation a state-of-the-art renewable energy initiative," said Joe Kelley, president, Stop & Shop New England Division. "We are proud of these efforts. Stop & Shop has been an industry leader in initiatives for operating efficiencies and clean energy."
The PRO will process unsold food product from grocery stores, such as produce, bakery, deli items and products past expiration dates, as well as rejected food product from the distribution center. The existing Stop & Shop food distribution network will take unsold product from Stop & Shop grocery stores to the distribution center in enclosed trucks returning to the warehouse from grocery delivery trips.
No new truck trips will be required to deliver the feedstock. Unsold product will be placed in heavy-duty, plastic-lined containers, sealed to fully contain the product, stored in designated areas at source sites, and retrieved within 24 hours of the containers being filled.
Food and other organics make up 25 percent of the Commonwealth's solid waste stream. MassDEP's goal is to reduce the disposal of organics by 450,000 tons per year by 2020. As part of the effort to meet that goal, MassDEP has just finalized regulations requiring institutions that generate one ton or more per week of food disposal to divert those organics to productive uses like the facility proposed by Stop & Shop.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.