Pine Island Farm, a large dairy farm in Sheffield, Massachusetts, recently received one of the American Biogas Council 2017 Biogas Industry Awards for its innovative on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. Pine Island Farm developed the system to help combat common farming industry concerns such as manure management, groundwater protection, and odor control.

Anaerobic digestion represents one industrial use for food waste, as outlined in the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which also includes source reduction, donating surplus food, creating animal feed, and composting as alternatives to disposal. Many sites with anaerobic digesters, like Pine Island Farm, accept diverted food waste from other businesses and institutions. In October 2017, MassDEP updated its map of sites accepting food materials in Massachusetts which includes anaerobic digesters, compost sites, and animal feed operations.

The Pine Island Farm AD system converts organic material such as yogurt whey, spoiled milk,  and cow manure, into renewable electricity, heat, liquid digestate, and residual solids which the farm is able to utilize for its operations. For example, the liquid digestate serves as a highly effective crop fertilizer and the residual solids are used for livestock bedding. The farm also is able to generate income by selling the excess solid material to other farms. Although the farm-owned facility did require a substantial start-up investment in terms of time and money, the anaerobic digester has reduced the farm’s operating costs overall while also expanding its product mix.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program for businesses and institutions. We provide sector-specific guidance and help implement strategies for diverting waste such as food scraps. If you need assistance setting up a recycling or composting program, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at info@recyclingworksma.com.