Thursday, January 3, 2013

Turning Waste Into Fuel and Money

An article in the Kansas City Star details a long-term project by the Kansas City government that changed the way they deal with their sewer sludge. Here's an excerpt:

Kansas City
Every city produces tons of it (sewer sludge), and every city tries to figure out what to do with it.

Kansas City’s solution: Use it as fertilizer on 1,340 acres it owns along the Missouri River next to the Birmingham wastewater treatment plant.

Corn and soybeans are the main crops, and when harvested they are sold to the expanding fuel-production industry to make biofuel — the crops are not intended for human consumption.

The ingenious part of the equation is that Kansas City has made $2.1 million in net income over the past six years doing something that used to cost it money.

“That is fantastic,” said Tammy Zborel, who works with a sustainability program for the National League of Cities. “That is not a common practice for cities to engage in that level of farming.”

The city used to burn all its waste in incinerators.

“That is an expensive process that takes a lot of water, takes a lot of gas, takes a lot of electricity, and it leaves us with a fairly inert ash,” said Kurt Bordewick, manager of the Water Services’ wastewater treatment division.

Aside from the savings, the farm also makes the city greener — fertilizer is more environmentally friendly than incineration, Bordewick said.

Waste into fuel. The more people who are driving flex fuel vehicles, the more financial incentives cities will have to put solutions like this into effect. You can help make this happen. Click here to start.

Read the article here: Kansas City-Owned Farm Turns Human Waste Into Revenue.

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