Environmental and cost benefits of co-digesting food waste at wastewater treatment facilities
Environmental and cost benefits of co-digesting food waste at wastewater treatment facilities. WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. IWA Publishing, London, Uk, 82(2):227-241, (2020). https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2020.104
The wastewater industry is undergoing a paradigm shift from focusing solely on treatment to incorporating concepts aimed at mitigating environmental impacts such as energy and nutrient recovery and water reuse. This study uses life cycle assessment and life cycle cost analysis to investigate the effect of expanding anaerobic digestion (AD) capacity and adding combined heat and power on environmental and cost indicators at a mid-sized wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) in Massachusetts, USA. Since 2014, Massachusetts has banned the disposal of organic waste from commercial organizations producing more than one ton of material per week. The WWTF's additional digester capacity allows the co-digestion of municipal solids with a food-based engineered bioslurry due to this ban. Study data were compiled for several AD feedstock quantity and performance scenarios, and compared to a baseline scenario representative of historic plant operations prior to co-digestion. Reductions in environmental impact are demonstrated for six of eight environmental impacts, including global climate change potential and cumulative energy demand. Eutrophication potential increases by 10 percent and 24 percent across assessed scenarios. Water use remains relatively constant across scenarios. Facility energy production increases dramatically with co-digestion, satisfying 100 percent of the WWTF's thermal energy requirement and producing surplus electricity assuming full AD capacity utilization.