Massachusetts proposes turning food waste into electricity

Massachusetts proposes turning food waste into electricity

May 14, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

Organic Waste

Organic waste could be a promising source of energy

Alternative energy is poised to take an interesting turn in Massachusetts. State legislators have proposed regulations that would prevent large companies, restaurants, hospitals, and hotels to discard food waste. This legislation would make Massachusetts the first state in the U.S. to adopt a ban on commercial food waste. If the legislation is successful, this food waste will not sit idle at a landfill. Instead, it will be used to generate electricity for the state.

Massachusetts may utilize microbial fuel cells to generate electricity

Massachusetts officials estimate that the state’s businesses produce approximately 1.4 million tons of food waste each year. This waste could be converted into a massive amount of electricity through the use of microbial fuel cells. These are variants of the more popular hydrogen-based fuel cell but are capable of producing electricity in a similar fashion. These energy systems typically contain bacteria or other kinds of microbes that consume organic waste and produce methane or hydrogen gas. This gas is then used to generate electricity.

U.N. notes that world’s waste could be a powerful source of renewable energy

According to the United Nations, more than 222 million metric tons of food waste is produced by the world’s richest nations every year. This waste generally inhabits landfills while it decomposes. As the waste rots, it releases gases, such as methane, that are harmful to the environment. Mitigating the release of these gases into the environment is considered to be an ideal way to mitigate the effects of climate change. Energy systems that convert waste into electricity could bring a twofold benefit in this case, as they would be able to produce electricity from a renewable source – organic waste – and they would help reduce the impact that this waste has on the environments.

Massachusetts initiative currently awaiting legislative process

Currently, the Massachusetts initiative is moving through the legislative process. State officials hope that the initiative will eventually extend to homes and not just focus on the state’s businesses. Legislators expect that the initiative will be enacted within the next few years.