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Ovation: The City of Oslo Begins Recycling Food Waste Into Biofuel To Run Its Buses.

02/19/2014

OsloPlantA couple of years ago, a local gardener asked us if he could have some of our horses’ manure to spread as compost on his heirloom tomato garden.  Of course, we obliged.  He brought a large bin to our barn and we sifted through our stalls as we cleaned twice each day until the bin was filled with fresh, clean manure.  He was very excited to collect the clean fertilizer for his garden and mentioned several times that using it was more effective than any composting he had ever done in the past.

The citizens of Oslo, Norway have taken composting to a new extreme.  Last week, a plant in the city began converting household food waste into liquid fuel to run the city’s one hundred thirty-five buses.  The biogas plant will treat 50,000 tons of food waste per year to produce around 14,000 cubic meters per day of biomethane.  The liquefied gas can then be erffciently transported for use as fuel.

“This plant will mean that 135 Oslo region buses will be able to run on biogas.  As a result, the air will be cleaner and noise levels will be reduced, benefits that everyone in the region will enjoy.” – Jannicke Gerner Bjerkås, Director Communications for Oslo’s Waste-to-Energy Agency.

Residents already sort and separate their trash and recyclables and now they’ll have a third bin to place at the curb each week.  Organic, food waste including leftovers, eggshells and nutshells, fruit and vegetable peels, fruit cores, coffee grounds, tea bags, household paper and bones, is separated from other trash and forwarded to the new plant.

It seems to me that, aside from the possibility of odors from week-old food stuffs, this system will require very little additional effort on the part of the city’s residents.  Since they’re already accustomed to sorting their trash, an additional step in the process should not be a nuisance.

At my house, after sifting through horse manure, sorting our garbage would be a piece of cake.

Would you mind adding an additional bin to your household’s recycling program?

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5 Comments
  1. Thanks for highlighting this. We should be doing even more of this (and things like this) in our country. This makes total sense. Would we take the time to segregate refuse toward this purpose… absolutely.

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  2. I’ve read that the gasses from decomposing food produce the most gas in landfills. One of the best and easiest things a person can do is recycle their food and not put it in their trash or down the disposal. When you recycle at home you get great soil for your garden or yard.

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  3. thedogs'mother permalink

    Our city has been experimenting with curbside recycling. We have three cans – garbage, recyclable and yard waste. When they first worked out their plans they put our neighborhood on the most restrictive version – we went from weekly pick up to every two weeks. The raccoons and skunks had a drunken party every night. Thank goodness we were switched back to weekly pickup.

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  4. This is exactly the sort of thing governments should be investing in. It doesn’t surprise me that the Scandinavians are doing it first.

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