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We need to get behind Renewable Natural Gas

RNG is produced from food scraps, manure

Massachusetts residents, by supporting the production of Renewable Natural Gas, or RNG, have an opportunity to boost the state’s commitment to reducing food waste at its landfills. At the same time, Massachusetts can see an increase in the supply of clean energy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from escaping into the atmosphere.

RNG is a carbon-free fuel alternative derived by removing methane gas from decomposing food scraps and animal manure in a process that repurposes waste products into a renewable power source. RNG can then be transported and distributed through already existing infrastructure, eliminating the need to build new pipelines.

Massachusetts is a national leader in the fight against food waste. Since 2014, the Commonwealth has banned commercial organic waste disposal in landfills, which has inspired companies to come up with innovative recycling solutions such as sending scraps and expired products to RNG-producing facilities. But there is more to be done to confront the epic challenges of climate change and waste reduction.

To bolster government and industry efforts to reduce food waste in landfills and mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions, lawmakers need to promote a policy environment that incentivizes investment in the technologies that produce RNG.

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, is naturally released into the atmosphere as discarded food and animal manure decomposes. Alternatively, anaerobic digesters combine dairy farm manure with food and beverage waste. That waste is then recycled where microorganisms convert sugars, fats, and other compounds into biogas that can then be used to fuel vehicles, generate electricity, and heat homes and offices. By mitigating harmful methane emissions, the process cleans the air while producing clean energy.

The United States has 200 anaerobic digestion systems, 13 of which are installed in Massachusetts. Each digester can produce enough biogas to fuel about 2,000 homes. In addition, the process produces low carbon fertilizer that host farms can use to support regenerative agriculture practices while also providing farms with an alternative income stream — a crucial financial lifeline as we face continued economic uncertainty.

Our world needs a diverse portfolio of solutions to address the extensive and untold challenges of climate change. We cannot afford to place all bets on solar and wind. RNG is a necessary and complementary resource.

Sufficient RNG production could recycle enough organic waste to supply all current commercial gas demand nationwide, 75 percent of current residential demand, or 45 percent of industrial demand.

As Massachusetts continues to expand its food waste repurposing efforts, lack of consideration for the potential of RNG ignores a readily available, two-pronged solution for sustainable practices. The fact is, waste is inevitable and unavoidable, but with increased support for policies that advance RNG production, the energy sector and our partners in agriculture and the food industry will be better equipped to face the environmental challenges posed by greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and organic waste.

Bill Ryan, the author, is the public affairs manager for the Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy, which represents nearly two dozen of the state’s larger business, employer, housing, and labor organizations, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the Massachusetts High Technology Council, nine chambers of commerce, and IBEW 103.

Article cited from: https://tinyurl.com/yaaqlxkv