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August 7, 2014
REW Staff

NW&RA applauds EPA decision on cellulosic biofuel

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA), Washington, D.C., has applauded a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a final rule qualifying additional fuel pathways as cellulosic biofuel, including landfill gas, under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

The final rule allows three forms of energy created from landfill biogas to be counted as cellulosic biofuels under the standard. Specifically, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and electricity used to power vehicles derived from landfill biogas or separated municipal solid waste digesters will qualify as cellulosic and advanced fuel pathways.

Cellulosic biofuels are fuels identified as helping the U.S. be less dependent on imported oil. The EPA mandates renewable fuel obligations annually, and in 2014 the mandated obligation for renewable fuels is 17 million gallons. Based on the waste it currently manages, the American waste and recycling industry alone can generate enough energy to meet this 2014 target, says NW&RA.

“The waste and recycling industry welcomes this final rule,” says Sharon H. Kneiss, president and CEO of NW&RA. “The EPA’s decision to qualify biogas from landfills as a cellulosic pathway advances the agency’s goal of increasing the amount of biofuels available to the fuel industry and provides incentives for the further development of landfill gas to energy projects.”


ABC and WEF join forces to promote organics recycling

The Washington, D.C.-based American Biogas Council (ABC) and the Alexandria, Virginia-based Water Environment Federation (WEF) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) they say will help accelerate organics recycling by promoting the value of resource recovery. Specifically the two groups cite the use of energy and products produced from biogas systems at wastewater treatment facilities.

The MOU partnership supports the beneficial use of biogas, digested materials and biosolids as an economically and environmentally sound energy and waste management solution for communities; the use of proven technologies that facilitate energy and nutrient recovery; the encouragement of federal and state legislation that promotes the use of biogas as a renewable energy source; proactive communication and public outreach to build support for products made from digested materials; continued research and sound science in regard to biosolids management; and the development of state and federal regulations.

“In the U.S. we could build 12,000 more biogas systems and one third of them can be built at wastewater treatment facilities,” says Patrick Serfass, ABC’s executive director. “Wastewater biogas projects are extremely important to the growth of the overall American biogas industry. We’re extremely pleased to continue our relationship with the Water Environment Federation under this MOU. A significant opportunity exists to utilize existing wastewater digester capacity to recycle other organic materials, like the billions of pounds of food that Americans waste each year.”

“WEF is thrilled to formalize our commitment to a broader and deeper working relationship with the American Biogas Council,” says WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “Our organizations have a shared interest in the recognition that energy derived from biosolids, using anaerobic digestion, is a valuable renewable resource. We look forward to working with ABC in promoting opportunities for the beneficial use of biogas and digested residuals.”

WEF and ABC do not consider wastewater treatment plants as waste disposal facilities, but rather water resource recovery facilities that produce clean water and, through the use of biogas systems, yield renewable energy, recover nutrients (such as phosphorus and nitrogen) and produce valuable, nutrient-rich soil amendments that reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, the groups say in a press release.

Biogas systems process organic materials, like the solids, fats, oils and grease removed by wastewater treatment, in controlled, fully-enclosed, natural biological systems designed to capture the methane to create electricity and fuel. The two groups say there is a long history of using biogas as a reliable and renewable source of fuel that can be used in engines, turbines and fuel cells for electricity generation as well as for combined heat and power (CHP).

According to the two groups, CHP (electricity generation from the captured residual heat) is an efficient, clean and reliable approach to generating power and thermal energy.

Of the more than 2,000 operating biogas facilities in the United States, more than 1,300 of them are at wastewater treatment facilities. The ABC and WEF say at least 4,000 wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S. could install new biogas systems for converting organic waste into energy and soil products.