Great Lakes Christian Homes has partnered with the Delhi Township to turn their food scraps into energy that will run the Township’s Water Treatment Plant. Delhi Township purchased the four new anaerobic digesters with the help of a financial assistance grant from Michigan State University. Most water treatment plants burn off the ethanol gas with a flame which puts off an odor, but when using food as energy, the smell is significantly reduced - a significant benefit for local residents. Before reaching out to Great Lakes, local schools were the sole source of waste. Now, many schools and local businesses, including Great Lakes Christian Homes, contribute to the project.
Residents and employees separate their food from other trash and place it into bins provided by the Water Treatment Plant, which is later collected. Food of all kinds is used, from kitchen prep to leftover scraps, which means very little goes to waste.
“It seemed like a no brainer to say yes,” says Sonya, a Dietary Manager at Great Lakes. She knew when they were approached that it was a great idea.
Preparation was minimal to implement the program. All it took to get the program off the ground was a few gentle reminders to staff and residents to separate their food from the rest of their trash.
The program for collecting food waste started at Great Lakes in May 2016. From May 2016 to December 2017, Great Lakes donated 6,000 pounds of food waste. They estimate that they donated 10,000 pounds in 2018, although official numbers for 2018 have yet to be released. Except for bones and eggshells, all food is accepted.
Sonya is passionate about sustainability at home and at work. Great Lakes recycles all plastic, tin cans, and cardboard. Sonya then collects the recyclables, loading them into her personal truck and dropping them off at the recycling center several times a week as needed.
“I feel so good to be able to participate in this program. I hope others in the community can also participate,” Sonya says. “It matters to me because there needs to be land left for future generations. We have to protect the earth for others. If we keep throwing away, the earth will be a big landfill.”