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Company turns food waste into electricity The idea is already big in Europe.

Supermarkets, restaurants, schools, and hospitals toss a huge amount of food in the trash each day. But one person’s waste is another’s source of energy.

Paganini: “We have a tremendous resource that we’re literally throwing away every day.”

Brian Paganini is vice president of Quantum Biopower, a Connecticut company that uses a process called “anaerobic digestion” to make electricity out of food waste.

When organic material like food or animal waste breaks down, it releases methane, a potent global warming gas. But if that waste breaks down in an anaerobic digester, the methane can be captured and used to produce electricity.

Quantum Biopower processes 40,000 tons of food waste a year from local businesses and produces 1.2 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power nearly 1,000 homes.

Paganini: “Connecticut has about 500,000 tons of food waste within our borders and we are processing just a fraction of that.”

Generating electricity from organic waste is already a common practice in Europe. If it catches on in the United States, it could help reduce waste in landfills, methane pollution, and dependence on fossil fuels.

Reporting credit: Mark Knapp/ChavoBart Digital Media.

AUTHORJan Ellen Spiegel is a freelance writer and editor based in Connecticut. In 2013, she received a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate.

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