California Anaerobic Digestion Forum Explores Project Successes and Challenges

Stakeholders examine the successes and challenges of anaerobic digestion technology, permitting, and economics.

On May 30th, CalRecycle held a one-day forum entitled Digesting Urban Organics Residuals. The forum brought together stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities throughout California. Currently, California has more than 30 AD projects in the pilot, feasibility, construction or operation stages. AD project technology, permitting and economics were investigated through a series of case studies. ESA’s Renewable Resources group shared its “Rounding Up Organics from the Commercial Sector: Key Steps.” Using the award-winning Food Recycling Project, a partnership of the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, Allied Waste Services and East Bay Municipal Utility District as a case study, the illustrated poster profiled the many steps and decisions that lead to success. ESA has been involved with this project from its beginning in 2008.

When considering an urban organics collection program, some of the elements to consider include program funding, identification of sources, the food generator’s footprint, route density, service days, program branding, access to market, training, education, monitoring and recognition. ESA’s team has experience with every aspect of organics technical assistance program development and implementation and is involved in urban organics diversion projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

ESA is no stranger to AD facilities. In 2010, we helped to advance California’s Environmental Goals by preparing a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board’s waste discharge program for dairy digester and co-digester facilities within the Central Valley and in 2011 we developed a Statewide Program EIR for CalRecycle on anaerobic digester facilities that treat solid waste. Currently, through a California Energy Commission grant, we are assisting South San Francisco Scavengers (SSF) with an Initial Study to develop a 9,000 ton per year AD facility for the organic fraction of the city’s waste stream. The planned project will use the generated biomethane fuel by converting it into a low carbon compressed natural gas fuel for the SSF fleet.

To learn more about, organics diversion development and implementation, or the award-winning Food Recycling Project, contact ESA’s Judith Silver at or at 415.896.5900. To learn more about our preparation of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents related to AD, contact ESA’s Paul Miller at or 916.564.4500.

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