Local Elementary School Helps Turn Food Waste Into Electricity

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He may be small, but he's "Scrappy" -- and he's teaching kids a big lesson in Horizon Elementary's cafeteria.

"It's really cool if you recycle food," said Vanessa Ly, a third grade student at Horizon. "It's really awesome. You can recycle cans and bottles, but you can recycle food too because of Scrappy."

The kids know to separate their food waste from paper or plastic trash, and put it all in Scrappy, a designated bin. Delhi Township has teamed up with Horizon Elementary to collect their daily food scraps, put them through the process at the waste water treatment plant, and create useable energy. It's enough to generate about half the power for an average household,, every day --- and it's teaching students the importance of recycling.

"They also really love to look in there and be grossed out by it," said David Hornak, the principal at Horizon. "They really, really enjoy the program."

From scrappy, the food waste is taken outside the school and picked up daily by Delhi Township employees. Then, they bring it to the waste water treatment plant. It's poured into large tanks called digesters to break it down into gas.

"We use the methane gas to drive the micro turbines and generate electricity," said Allen Bryant, environmental coordinator for Delhi Charter Township. "Each micro turbine can generate 30 kilowatts of electricity."

Using that electricity saves the plant about $64 a month.

"So it's a win-win situation where kids learn that food is energy and how it can benefit the community if they just separate it," said Bryant. "And It will lower costs for the plant and generate electricity that will be used here that we don't have to buy now."

"It's a wonderful opportunity for our children to see how recycling food can make a difference in our community," Hornak agrees.

And it makes a big difference in the kids' lunchtime experience, all thanks to Scrappy.

Horizon Elementary is the pilot school for the program. Delhi Township hopes to eventually expand it to all Holt public schools, and maybe even to other facilities with large amounts of food waste like nursing care centers.

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