Updated 11/26/18


NEBRA provided input to the Cambridge, MA City Council environment committee in October, countering concerns raised about co-digestion (as discussed at left).  On October 30th, NEBRA provided a detailed rebuttal of testimony by RILES (click to see what their website was like; it is being updated in 2018) and CLF.

Download the NEBRA memo to the City Council here.

Cambridge Success:
Diverting Food Scraps to Co-Digestion with Biosolids…

…But the Cambridge City Council environment committee recently heard concerns about the program.  The concern was raised in this WGBH story and mentioned later in the Boston Globe. Long-time biosolids recycling opponent Laura Orlando of RILES (click to see what their website was like; it is being updated in 2018) is leading the critique of the use of Cambridge food scraps at the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, and she testified at the hearing. As she has stated in the past, she and her funding partner Abby Rockefeller believe centralized wastewater treatment is a mistake and sewage sludge is "the always toxic byproduct."  Her views are not supported by research and experience and have been discounted.

The Cambridge City Council’s Health and Environmental Committee (Co-Chairs Quinton Zondervan, back center, and Jan Devereux, back left) hear from City recycling program staff at a public hearing Oct. 9, 2018.

At the October 9th hearing, NEBRA provided a fact sheet addressing the typical concerns about biosolids and pointing out the benefits of co-digestion. See the Harvard Crimson article about the Oct. 9th hearing. 

The GLSD co-digestion process is hailed as a progressive example of resource recovery and community sustainability.  As its new, 4th digester comes online, GLSD hopes to soon achieve net-zero electricity consumption. 

Because co-digestion is an important option in the management of organic residuals nationwide, U. S. EPA and Massachusetts DEP provided to the October 9th hearing strong letters of support for the Cambridge program. (See EPA testimony.  See MassDEP testimony). MassDEP and other state agencies have invested significantly in biogas renewable energy over the past decade, because it advances sustainability and supports the state regulation forcing the diversion of food scraps from landfills, where they generate significant greenhouse gas emissions (fugitive methane). Massachusetts is seen as a leader nationwide for its progress on organic waste diversion from landfills.

NEBRA developed responses to Orlando's testimony, which were submitted to the City Council committee on October 30th. That same day, a tour of Waste Management’s CoRE facility, where an engineered slurry is produced, and the GLSD digestion operations, was held for Cambridge recycling staff, recycling advisory committee members, and others. NEBRA plans to testify at a future City Council environment committee meeting. 

The dramatic success of the first 6 months of the City's food scraps diversion program is summarized by the City here and in this Waste Dive article. The community seems to be mostly strongly in support of the program, and stakeholders involved in the same process - for example the City of Boston and Boston University - are excited about this recycling program.