The Country's First Organic Waste to Energy/Compost Recycling Facility to be Built in Gloucester City; Construction Cost $30 Million
By Bill Cleary
The City of Gloucester City has been chosen as the site for the first organic waste to energy/compost recycling plant to be constructed in the United States. The $30 million, 110,000 square foot facility will be located in the City’s Southport Development area on 9.5 acres at the end of Water Street and the Delaware River. The vacant ground was once home to New Jersey Zinc which was owned by Gulf and Western.
The organics recycling facility will accept 60,000 tons annually of organic material [source-separated food waste, yard waste, and brush] for processing into renewable energy and compost. The facility will generate approximately two megawatts of renewable energy and 60,000 cubic yards of high-quality compost and will operate during normal business hours five and a half days per week.
The project was announced at the December 22 Gloucester City Council meeting. At that meeting a resolution authorizing Organic Diversion LLC, of Marlton to proceed with the plans for the facility was approved.
Organic Diversion LLL, of Marlton was founded 18 months ago. Principal owners include: Rocco D’Antonio, Gail Rosati, John Connelly and Joe Kozlowski.
In a telephone interview on December 24, D’Antonio said he and his partners were looking for a spot in Camden County because of its high population density. “We chose Gloucester City because it had vacant ground available and it is located close to major highways. This is the first facility of this kind in the United States. There are a number of them operating in Europe for the past 10 years.”
D’Antonio said the plant would operate 5 and half days a week between the hours of 6AM and 4PM. He expects 25 trucks a day to be hauling waste to the facility. The plant would process at the most 200 tons a day or 60,000 tons a year. The total employment would be 20 people which would include laborers, truck drivers and office staff. Once all permits are obtained construction would take about 9 months.”
D’Antonio added that there are some environmental problems that need to be addressed. The City owns the property and is leasing it to Organic Diversion. He said the City was going to help with the cleanup of the property.
“It is our hope that our clean energy facility will help to attract other industry to Gloucester City,” said D’Antonio.
City Solicitor John Kearney said the City has signed a letter of Intent with Organic Diversions LLC (OD) for that company to lease a 9.26 acre parcel in Southport for the indoor processing of food and organic waste and the generation of energy.
“The expected revenue to the City would be in the $200,000 per year range to start, increasing to $400,000 in years 26-30. Also OD would take up to 800 tons of municipal waste (that we now pay $74 per ton) at no charge and provide the City with 200 tons of mulch per year.
“The expected truck traffic will likely be high. Part of the process going forward will include an agreement on truck routes. We expect most if not all of this traffic will be in the south of the City.
“Expected completion date is two years with the hope for a quicker turnaround based on the cleanup of the site. The process involves a negative air pressure building. The building itself is effectively sealed allowing for no odor. This is based upon technology presently in use in Germany. I have spoken with Dave Luthman, the deputy director at the Pollution Control Financing Authority, who has visited the operations in Germany and he reports no odors and that some of the plants were located in residential neighborhoods.
“The organic waste comes from everywhere within a 10 mile radius. The best raw product for the process is food so large food producers will likely be customers which would include hospitals, schools, restaurants, grocery stores and fruit importers. These customers would be able to pay less than the present rate at the incinerator for disposal, According to OD the surrounding area produces 270% of what OD would need to run 24/7. In addition it would take yard waste, grass clippings, brush etc. With nearby Bellmar having closed its recycling center disposal of this stuff is getting more difficult and expensive.
“And at the end this creates electricity which will be sold at reduced rates to other new businesses locating in the City,” Kearney said.
D’Antonio was asked for further details about the problems of odors coming from the plant.
How can you guarantee there will be no smell?
He said, “All operations, from truck unloading to storage and truck loading of finished compost will take place in a fully enclosed, state of the art building. The building is composed of four sections: receiving, energy production, compost production, and storage. Organic material is processed within the building in multiple, airtight chambers. The building sections are separated by high-speed doors and operate under negative pressure so air is drawn in when a door is opened. Each building section has a ventilation system with multiple air exchanges, which recycles and filters the air internally before being exhausted out of the building through a biofilter.
He explained further, ‘As waste disposal costs rise and the need to help improve our environment becomes increasingly more important, food producers are looking for alternatives to reduce disposal costs through recycling more of their waste. Food retailers generate more recyclable organic materials than any other business. Up to 75% of the waste coming out of commercial food operations is recyclable.
“Secondly, all resources on earth are finite. We only have so much water, land, and raw materials. When we recycle organics, we save ingredients to make something new. When organic materials are not saved, they are either burned or buried in a landfill. When organic
“items are buried in a landfill, they decompose without oxygen (they are packed in tight with no air) and release a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is at least twenty-one times more potent than carbon dioxide as an earth-warmer and is a major contributor to climate change. By recycling organics, you are helping to combat climate change and keep the earth cool.”