City’s concentrated waste pipeline now accepting waste from Founders

Published on June 12, 2018

Cody Green, Environment, Health, & Safety Specialist (left) and Brad Stevenson, Chief Production Officer switch their waste flow to discharge into the City’s concentrated waste pipeline.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City is one step closer to energy sustainability now that it’s accepting waste from Founders Brewing Co. The kickoff of the City’s new load balancing operation marks the completion of the first phase of its biodigester project.

The City constructed the 2-mile-long, 10-inch waste transmission pipeline under Market Avenue SW and into the City’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF), 1300 Market Ave. SW, last year. Completion of this $4 million first phase allows water discharged from Founders Brewing Co. to carry highly concentrated food waste directly to the WRRF. Once the concentrated waste reaches the WRRF, it is held in a tank until the middle of the night when it can handle the volume from Founders – an estimated 140,000 gallons a day.

“We’re excited to start using the concentrated waste pipeline installed last year,” said Grand Rapids Utilities Director Mike Lunn. “It also makes our participating businesses more efficient and helps them reach their critical environmental goals. I am eager to see this project help other businesses move forward as well.”

“It’s been great working with the City of Grand Rapids on the biodigester project,” Founders Chief Production Officer Brad Stevenson said. “This coming together of the public and private sectors in the name of sustainability will have a positive impact on the future of our brewery and our city. We look forward to launching Phase 2 of the project next year. But for now, we’ll celebrate the successful launch of Phase 1.” 

Phase 2 will begin when the City’s biodigestion project is completed in 2019. The waste will then be recycled through the biodigestion system to create a biogas that will produce about 60 percent of the electricity needs of the WRRF. The generators also will produce the heat required for biodigestion. The City draws 34 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. It is working to increase that amount to 100 percent by 2025.

SET Environmental, also located on Market Avenue, is set to be the second customer to utilize the pipeline beginning in the next few weeks. Over the next few years, other customers will be added to the pipeline to reduce the load on the WRRF.