Toronto, ON, (January 31, 2008) – The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) and StormFisher Biogas, an Ontario-based renewable energy utility, have joined forces to launch Plan Zero, a province-wide social enterprise that will generate renewable electricity from food industry surplus and by-products that are destined for landfills.
Plan Zero will work with food industry producers, growers and manufacturers to direct organic by-products to StormFisher’s biogas production facilities – called anaerobic digesters – which accelerate the decomposition of organic matter to create biogas for use in producing electricity, natural gas and heat. Plan Zero will direct a portion of the proceeds from the sale of energy to Ontario’s electricity grid to the OAFB.
StormFisher’s anaerobic digesters can produce energy using a wide range of organic materials, from used cooking oils to cow manure. The company also formed relationships with farms, food processing facilities, universities and technology providers. Its first three biogas facilities are currently in early development in London, Drayton and Port Colborne, Ont. and will be operational by 2009.
“Today, millions of tonnes of organic by-products generated in Ontario go to landfills unnecessarily” said Ryan Little, Vice President of Business Development, StormFisher Biogas. “Plan Zero will help food manufacturers improve their environmental efforts and bottom line while supporting food banks in their work to relieve hunger across Ontario.”
Plan Zero also provides a way for food industry producers, growers and manufacturers to direct surplus food products to the provincial food bank network. This surplus product will be distributed to food banks in over 100 communities throughout Ontario. Under Plan Zero, StormFisher and the OAFB will secure long-term agreements with food industry producers, growers and manufacturers that are looking for an environmental and economically beneficial alternative for disposing of their organic by-products.
“Plan Zero represents a powerful social enterprise initiative for the food industry as a single gateway for their surplus food and by-products,” said Adam Spence, Executive Director of the OAFB. “But this is not just a smart business decision. As a social enterprise, Plan Zero is also a meaningful way for businesses to fight climate change and hunger at the same time.”
Generating electricity from biogas involves capturing the gas produced by the decomposition of organic matter such as food by-products in anaerobic digesters – large holding tanks deprived of oxygen. The decomposition creates a mix of methane and carbon dioxide (“biogas”) with the methane subsequently captured and burned to power an electricity generator. The energy created by the generator can then be fed directly into the electrical grid and sold to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to supply the province’s electricity demand.
“As a company that works both with the OAFB and StormFisher, we know the value of putting food that won’t be sold to a good use,” said Chris Swartz, Director of Warehousing, Gordon Food Service Canada. “This is a program that just makes sense.”
StormFisher has announced agreements to create renewable electricity in partnership with a number of food processing companies in Ontario. One such partnership, with Inniskillin Wines, will create renewable electricity from the winery’s grape by-products. About 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of winery by-products previously destined to a landfill will be given a new use as a fuel. Methane gas produced by the decomposition of grape pomace will be captured and used to generate power for homes in the Niagara region.
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For more information on StormFisher Biogas: www.stormfisher.com
For more information on the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB): www.oafb.ca
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