Under a New Composting Law, Companies Flock to Southington

May 6, 2014

A law that went into effect in January requires certain businesses to recycle their food waste. So far, two companies have emerged with high-tech composting plans to help process that waste and they both want to do it in the same town: Southington.

They're called anaerobic digesters -- composting units that take biomaterial like food waste and turn it into energy, compost, and locally grown food.

Blake Sturcke with Turning Earth, LLC is working on plans to build a $20 million AD unit in Southington. He said it will take waste from places like restaurants and supermarkets, and generate enough energy to power nearly 1,000 homes. 

Food waste like this from restaurants is often thrown into a dumpster, but it could generate energy.
Credit Taz / Creative Commons

Sturcke said his company chose Southington because the town wants to increase their usage of renewable energy. It's also located in the heart of the state's "deepest wasteshed." 

"Greater Hartford ended up being the most densely populated [area]," Sturcke said. "Therefore, there's the greatest amount of waste -- and specifically food waste, which we're most focused on -- in that wasteshed."

Brian Paganini, with Quantum Biopower, is also eyeing that wasteshed. He's working on an $11 million plan to bring an AD unit to a five-acre plot in Southington. "The state of Connecticut has laid out some very fervent guidelines," he said, "and some goals around organics diversion: making sure that food waste doesn't end up in landfills. When you think about it, the trash that goes out to the corner of our driveway on a regular basis -- 30 percent of that is composed of food waste."

In 2009, a report from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection estimated that 2.3 million tons of waste was disposed that year. Of that, roughly one third (750,773 tons, or 31.5 percent) was compostable. It was comprised of food waste, soiled and compostable paper, leaves, grass, prunings, trimmings, branches, and stumps. 

Quantum Biopower is scheduled to discuss their site plan with Southington officials Tuesday night. 

Sturcke said Turning Earth will present to the town on May 20. They hope to file a plan with the state in coming weeks.