depackagerEXETER, MAINE – Exeter Agri-Energy (EAE) along with its organic waste sourcing partner, Agri-Cycle, today unveiled new technology that will enable Maine grocers, businesses and institutions to dispose of bulk packaged food waste in an eco-friendly manner, ultimately converting tons of traditionally landfilled organic waste into clean energy.

“Exeter Agri-Energy is unveiling a state-of-the-art food depackaging system that will allow us to process high volumes of food waste from generators across New England,” said EAE Managing Partner Adam Wintle. This technology has the capacity to process up to 20 tons of organic waste an hour, feeding the two anaerobic digesters that convert waste to electricity and – for EAE’s partner, Stonyvale Farm – providing the facility with liquid fertilizer and bedding for its cows.

When packaged food waste is fed into the depackager, its containers are separated and used at waste-to-energy facilities depending on the makeup, and highest and best end-use for that material. The organic material is pumped into onsite anaerobic digesters that use animal and food wastes to produce biogas, which is then burned to produce renewable energy.

Hannaford Supermarkets, Colby College and Bay State-based Massachusetts General Hospital and Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston viewed today’s Exeter facility demonstration.

The average Hannaford store diverts more than 80% of its waste from landfills, which is much higher than the typical grocery store. “Packaged food that cannot be sold and is not appropriate for donation has been a real challenge in moving Hannaford toward zero waste,” said Sustainability Manager George Parmenter. “Depackaging technology provides an exciting, sustainable option for propelling our waste-reduction program forward.”

Colby College in Waterville reached carbon neutrality in 2013 due to its ongoing commitment to reduce its waste stream. Agri-Cycle’s depackager and bio digesting systems expand the range of compostable materials most notably plastics and metal it can now divert to the Exeter facility.  “Partnering with Agri-Cycle has allowed us to broaden our campus composting efforts and increase our waste diversion efforts,” said Kevin Bright, Colby College Sustainability Coordinator. “Their flexibility around pickups, compostable materials, and competitive cost helped make our decision to change composting vendors relatively simple.”

These solutions demonstrated by EAE and Agri-Cycle are timely: On September 16 the USDA announced a nationwide goal for US households and businesses to reduce food waste 50% by the year 2030. The technology available via Agri-Cycle and its partner company, EAE provide green answers to these perennial waste management problems.

Click here to view a visual representation of how this works.