It’s not exactly a municipal composting system, but it’s close. The Metro Council in Portland, Oregon, recently approved a franchise permit for Columbia Biogas to operate a facility that will recycle food waste from commercial and industrial sources. The facility is expected to keep about 200,000 tons of waste out of landfills (or the sewer system), and produce enough electricity to power up to 5,000 homes each year.

The facility will be located in an industrial-zoned area of northeast Portland, and will make use of anaerobic digestion, a controlled and enclosed biologic process that breaks down organic matter in the absence of oxygen and produces methane-rich biogas that can be burned to generate electricity. Useful by-products of the process will also include fertilizer and soil amendments (which will be useful, no doubt, to Oregon’s many farms and nurseries).

Columbia Biogas Facility
image via Columbia Biogas

Construction on the plant will begin in the summer of 2011, and will provide about 85 jobs. Once operational, the facility will employ about 10 full time workers and is expected to create additional waste-hauling jobs. The plant will generate about five megawatts of electricity, which will feed directly into a substation grid in the PacifiCorp system.

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