Campbell’s Soup Co. recently announced plans to divert a significant amount of food waste from landfills and create energy to help operate its plant in Napoleon, Ohio. Campbell’s is working with a New Jersey company to capture organic material from its production process and turn it into biogas.
Here in the Citizens United era, it’s tempting to assume that all corporations are opposed to clean energy, climate policy and the democratic process. While it’s true that corporations only exist to better their bottom line (not create jobs), many have discovered that green technologies are the fastest route to improved profit margins.
Currently, bits and pieces of food that doesn’t make it into a Campbell’s soup can are trucked to nearby Henry County landfills. There it biodegrades and its potential energy is lost. By working with CH4 Biogas LLC, the company will help create Ohio’s first commercial biogas power plant and replace about 25 percent of its electricity demand with locally-made energy.
The new anaerobic digester will be built directly across the street from Campbell’s Napoleon plant. When fully operational, it will accept between 30 and 50 percent of the facility’s food waste, in addition to organic material from area food processors, waste recyclers and local dairy farms.
The biogas plant will be able to process 450 tons of waste every day, turning carrot peels and tomato chunks into methane gas which will be used to fuel turbines that will produce energy for Campbell’s existing beverage production, further offsetting the company’s fossil fuel use.
“This new biogas technology will improve Campbell’s Napoleon recycling rate to approximately 95 percent, reaching the company’s 2020 destination goal for the site early,” said Dave Stangis, Campbell’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, Campbell Soup Company. “The use of biogas energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of electricity in this facility by approximately 16,000 metric tons per year, or the equivalent of 3,000 cars.”
Construction of the Napoleon Biogas plant is already underway and slated for completion in mid-2013. The site is adjacent to a 60-acre, 9.8 MW solar system that currently provides 15 percent of power for Campbell’s Napoleon facility.
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