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Towards a circular economy of food in California: a spatially optimal, decentralized model for urban food waste recycling infrastructure

Authors: Lauren Mabe*, University of California - Davis
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Food Systems, Sustainability Science
Keywords: food waste, circular economy, metabolic rift, anaerobic digestion, zero net energy
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

California Senate Bill 1383 calls for diverting 75% of organic waste from landfill by 2025 as part of a larger mandate to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Current waste treatment alternatives do not have the capacity to treat this increase in diverted organic waste, including food waste (FW), and new FW treatment facilities will be required. Anaerobic digestors (ADs) are a well-established alternative to landfilling for FW, converting organic waste into biogas and a nutrient-dense digestate that can be used as fertilizer. Within this context, this research considers the geographies of commercial FW produced in Los Angeles County, California to create a novel location-allocation model for a decentralized network of small-scale, containerized ADs for FW. Using a novel modified k-means clustering method, the model places these small-scale ADs throughout the county, reducing GHG emissions associated with FW transport and distributing the ADs outputs (biogas and digestate) for use throughout the county. By considering the amount and spatial variation of FW produced, the model optimizes AD location and capacity to propose a zero net energy AD infrastructure solution in direct response to California’s SB 1383 and, more broadly, global climate change.

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