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Manteca ready to power city garbage trucks with food waste
water treatment
The new food waste to fuel facility at the wastewater treatment plant.

Starting next week some Manteca solid waste trucks will be powered by food waste.

The infrastructure for Manteca’s cutting edge food waste to fuel endeavor that was built in conjunction with the wastewater treatment improvement project as well as the compressed biogas fueling facility is now in the start-up phase.

A ribbon cutting for the project that has attracted national attention is set for Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 10 a.m.

 Ultimately all of the city’s two dozen solid waste trucks will be switched to operate on compressed natural gas.

The end result of the process means:

food waste instead of being buried will be used to power solid waste trucks.

the biogas the trucks will use is a clean burning fuel as opposed to diesel that is now being used.

methane gas produced from the wastewater treatment process instead of being burned off and contributing to air quality issues will instead be combined with food waste to produce biogas fuel.

the city will be significantly ahead of the curve compared to other cities when it comes to meeting state mandated food waste diversions from landfills as well as air quality standards.

The project was made possible in a fairly cost effective way due to several reasons.

First and foremost the public works staff was looking for ways to reduce long range solid waste and wastewater treatment plant costs as well as to meet state mandates to avoid potential future fines. Instead of taking a narrow focus they took a holistic approach.

The fact the city has its own wastewater treatment plant and is one of the relatively few in California that still have its own in-city solid waste collection operation made the project feasible.

The solid waste digesters were in need of overhauling. The city ended up building two new digesters and is rehabbing the older ones to accommodate future growth.

Manteca has also put in place an effective food waste collection program for schools and commercial customers such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and schools orange carts.

It was started just over two years ago. Manteca Unified schools, as an example, have student volunteers that monitor lunchrooms to make sure food waste is separated from other garbage as students bus their lunch trays and sack lunches. As a result food waste from the schools is extremely good meaning contamination is at a minimum.

While the food waste to fuel apparatus was being built the collected food waste was used by a Lathrop firm to make compost.

Manteca is working on other projects that will help make the wastewater treatment process more cost effective for ratepayers as well as to enhance recycling of solid waste.

The city is in the process of putting together a solar farm at the treatment plant that could generate more than 2.5 megawatts to help power the process. The treatment plant is the city’s biggest electricity user by a wide margin.

Manteca is also in the preliminary stages of looking at the possibility of building its own sorting facilities for recyclables. That would allow it to have more control over what happens to recyclables and avoiding them from being buried — whenever possible — at a landfill that can be an expensive process.

The city is also exploring a composting operation that would combine residential food waste, yard debris, and items such as newspapers and boxes such as those used for cereal and such. The city would then use the compost for city parks and such. In doing so, the city will eliminate being at the whims of the international markets for recycled materials.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email