Source Separated Organic Feedstock Pre-Treatment and Management Practices

Jun 6, 2019

Co-digestion with organic feedstocks has been practiced at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) throughout the United States to improve digester performance, increase methane production for energy generation, and decrease operating costs.

The EPA has identified food waste as one of the least recovered materials in the municipal solid waste industry, making up 20% of national municipal solid waste. Because of the EPA report documenting this finding and other independent drivers, states such as California and Massachusetts have adopted initiatives to reduce the amount of organic waste accepted at municipal landfills. A shifting regulatory landscape is leading WRRFs to evaluate co‐digestion with residential and commercial food waste from post‐consumer sources (source-separated organic feedstocks).

For this Research Area, the source-separated organic feedstock is defined as originating from commercial generators such as restaurants (excluding grease), commercial kitchens and cafeterias, grocery stores, and residential generators separated from other wastes at the source.


Research Area Objectives

  1. Develop an understanding of source separated organic feedstock characterization for pre-and post- source separated organic treatment, evaluate testing methods for feedstock contamination, and create rapid analysis techniques for feedstock evaluation to ensure a reliable supply of source separated organic feedstock for anaerobic co-digestion processes at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs).
  2. Evaluate pre-treatment technologies and management strategies. Develop standards (and rapid analysis techniques to understand feedstock quality) for food waste (FW) feedstock that links the quality of pre-treated material as compatible feed for conventional, complete mix, anaerobic digesters at WRRFs.
  3. Determine operational impacts to WRRF processes when co-digesting with source separated feedstock co-digestion and municipal wastewater sludge.
  4. Provide utilities with tools to access and communicate the applicability, costs, contractual scenarios, and benefits associated with source separated organic pre-treatment for co-digestion and various source separated organic supply management strategies.


Research Area Project Timeline and Value

Workshop: Advancing Anaerobic Digestion of Wastewater Solids and Food Waste for Energy and Resource Recovery

  • Timeline: 2017–2018
  • Total Project Value: $10,000
  • Research Area Objectives: Best Practices, Location, Ownership, etc.

Developing Business Cases for Food Waste Co-Digestion

  • Timeline: 2017–2020
  • Total Project Value: $40,000
  • Research Area Objectives: Cost/Benefits

Characterization and Contamination Testing of Source Separated Organic Feedstocks and Slurries for Co-Digestion at Resource Recovery Facilities

  • Timeline: 2018–2020
  • Total Project Value: TBD
  • Research Area Objectives: Best Practices

Cumulative Value of Research Area Research (to date): $50,000

Project Status

Year Initiated: 2016

Year Completed: Ongoing


Advisory Committee Members

  • Chris Muller, Brown and Caldwell
  • Mark Greene, OBG
  • Joerg Blischke, Black and Veatch
  • Dave Parry, CH2M
  • Rob Morton, Los Angeles County Sanitation District
  • Richard Wagner, City of Dallas;
  • Charlotte Ely, US EPA Region 9/ California State Water Control Board
  • Matt Seib, Madison Metropolitan Sewer District
  • Lauren Fillmore, WE&RF
  • John Novak, Virginia Tech
  • Jackie Zipkin, EBMUD