Turning Municipal Waste into Energy: Recology Runs on Alternative Fuel

Guest blogger, Chris Choate, VP of Sustainability at Recology, leads us through the dynamic world of creating biofuels.

Recology BiodieselRecology is driven to find the social, environmental, and economical solution to power our fleet of vehicles with fuel produced from the residual resources (waste material) from your trash. We’ve spent a lot of time evaluating and researching ways to generate and utilize bio-methane from our landfills and anaerobic digesters to power our trucks.

Our solution has proved to be a good one thus far.  We’ve found a way to integrate biofuels into our fleet fuel sources by transitioning to alternative fuel  equipment and utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and B20 biodiesel.  

Recology continues to partner with the City of San Francisco in an effort to lead the nation in diverting material from landfills to achieve the highest use of all materials. Over 80% of the material diverted is collected through an integrated system of reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting.  Even with all of these collection processes, over half of the current material going to the landfill is degradable and a good source of biomass material.

Recology is fortunate to have these alternative fuels accessible to us through our collection, recycling, and compost facilities. We not only rely on our recycling efforts to divert and reuse materials, but we rely on the nature of biology to also help our goals of zero waste.

SF Environment created the City’s Zero Waste Plan from our overarching environmental principles that include:

  • Reusing materials at a level that is their next best and highest use
  • Avoiding high-temperature conversion (incineration)
  • Achieving the highest carbon footprint reduction possible
  • Employing local and biological processes that mimic nature

Currently, biological processes are used, managed, and exploited to stabilize thousands of tons of organic material a year through our compost programs.  It is consistent with Recology’s sustainability goals, and the City’s overarching principles, to further utilize natural processes to produce biodiesel from the City’s waste stream.

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