Food Scraps Turned Into Energy At Wegmans - Natural Upcycling
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Food Scraps Turned Into Energy At Wegmans

Wegmans recycles food scraps with Natural Upcycling


Eleven Wegmans stores in the Greater Rochester area are sending food scraps to two dairy farms to be turned into energy and useful byproducts, thanks to a technology known as anaerobic digestion. The initiative involves a partnership that includes Wegmans, Lawnhurst Farms, Noblehurst Farms, and Natural Upcycling, a hauling company that specializes in collecting food scraps that can be fuel for renewable sources of energy. In 2014, Wegmans turned more than 2.5 million pounds of food scraps into clean, renewable energy.


At participating Rochester Wegmans stores, employees in the bakery, produce, sub shop, cheese shop, coffee, floral and prepared foods departments put what’s headed for the “digester” into collection totes that roll on wheels. Into the totes go foods that can’t be donated, like coffee grounds, baked goods, fruit and vegetable peelings, and damaged produce. When full, the totes roll out to a loading dock. Natural Upcycling, based in Linwood NY, empties the totes onto the truck, sanitizes the totes with a power-washer system built into the truck so they can be reused at the store, and then heads to the next store. Once full, the truck heads to the “digester” at Noblehurst Farms in Linwood or Lawnhurst Farms in Stanley NY.


Food Scraps Converted To Energy


Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs when bacteria decompose organic matter in the absence of oxygen. As the bacteria work, methane is released. The digester collects the methane and pipes it underground for cooling. Then it’s pressurized, metered and fed into a heat and power unit that yields heat for the digester, farm buildings, and the farm’s milking parlor. The waste remaining, after controlled anaerobic decomposition, is low in odor and rich in nutrients. The liquid can fertilize soil, and the solid “digestate” can be used as bedding for the cows, or spread on fields to add organic matter to the soil, improving its structure.


At full capacity, the digester can produce enough electricity to power 400 households for a year. This electricity not only powers the farm, but also generates excess energy that the local utility company buys.


Press release originally posted on