Grow Compost of Vermont has a new partnership with the Maine-based company, Agri-Cycle, New England’s largest organic waste hauler servicing New England and New York.
The partnership will provide feed for animals, healthy soils, and energy creation through anaerobic digestion, and will exponentially increase the volume of food waste diverted from Vermont’s only landfill. Increasing the volume of diverted food waste brings Vermont closer to reaching its goals set out in the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) and continues to use food scraps for their highest and best use, aligning with EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. The Vermont Legislature adopted EPA’s hierarchy in creating Vermont’s universal recycling law, banning food scrap from landfill disposal by July 2020.
John Sayles, director of the Vermont Foodbank, notes “the Vermont Foodbank’s fresh food rescue more than doubled since 2014, adding over 1 million pounds, and Act 148 was an important catalyst. Partnerships with Grow Compost and others has helped the Foodbank continue to make gains in getting perfectly good fresh food matched with neighbors who can’t afford to buy enough. It takes a whole community.”
Grow Compost currently operates two facilities, a chicken farm in Moretown and a compost facility in North Hartland, accepting food scraps only. It uses the food scraps to feed to its laying hens and make compost. Grow blends these food scraps with agricultural materials (such as hay and manure) to create its compost and soil mixes for use in organic agriculture, used by farmers, homeowners, landscapers, and others.
Agri-Cycle was established in 2013 to support its sister anaerobic digestion facility, Exeter Agri-Energy (EAE), located at Stonyvale Farm, a 5th generation dairy operation in Exeter, Maine. Agri-Cycle uses food scraps and other organic wastes to feed EAE’s three digesters working 24/7 to turn solid and liquid organic waste into renewable power. The residuals from the digestion process include fertilizer for its over 3,500 acres of cropland, bedding for its dairy operation, and heat and electricity for the property’s buildings. EAE is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stonyvale, Inc. The 3-megawatt processing facility has 3-million gallons of processing capacity. In 2018, Agri-Cycle and EAE have collected and processed approximately 50,000 tons of organic waste, as well as partner with several other digesters to divert significant additional tonnage from the region’s landfills and incinerators.
Agri-Cycle also has one of New England’s first depackagers—capable of separating food products from their packaging, including metal cans, cardboard boxes, and plastic containers. Food generators will be able to divert packaged products, such as bags of spinach, cans of soup, bread, or wrapped sandwiches – materials that businesses cannot easily and economically separate from the food waste. Partners include large supermarket chains, food banks, schools, restaurants, hotels, office buildings, breweries, and processing facilities.
“We are very excited about this new partnership with Grow Compost,” said Dan Bell, partner and general manager of Agri-Cycle. “The team at Grow has built a high-quality brand and operation based on providing a superior service and environmental solution to the state of Vermont and its many commercial partners. These are the same values that we at Agri-Cycle have looked to over the past five years and will continue to draw upon as this partnership evolves. Vermont is a regional leader in sustainability and we are proud to be supporting its recycling goals.”