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Janssen's Market first to receive food waste digester from DSWA grant

A Jansen's employee feeds brussels sprout clippings into the food digester.
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
A Janssen's employee feeds brussels sprout clippings into the food digester.

Janssen’s Market in Greenville is the first to receive a grant for a food waste digester machine.

The food digester is just 30 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 47 inches tall, and can divert up to 500 pounds of organic food waste from the landfill daily – breaking it down into a liquid that gets drained into the wastewater system instead.

Earth BioTechnologies’ Douglas Horner is the support partner for the digester brand. He emphasizes the food thrown in has to be digestible, which excludes things like pineapple tops, avocado seeds, corn cobs, oils, and shells.

“It’s an aerobic digester so it uses air, water and temperature, and a formula of microorganisms to accelerate the digestion process. It’s similar to your stomach the way it can produce enzymes that break down the different food groups is what this does in a mechanical way.”

Nonprofit Keep Delaware Beautiful is partnering with Delaware Solid Waste Authority to fund the food digester program. DSWA’s Chief of Business and Governmental Services Mike Parkowski says University of Delaware research confirms the byproduct doesn’t have any negative impacts.

“Their findings were remarkable that it was overwhelmingly not an issue for the wastewater treatment facilities,” Parkowski says.

Parkowski adds they are seeking more large food generators like schools, hotels, and supermarkets to apply for the grant to install a food waste digester. However, he says they promote food donation above all else when it’s possible.

“There is this other subset of food waste that really can’t be donated," Parkowski says. "It’s a place like this where they’re doing food prep on a regular basis like you’re pruning vegetables, you can’t donate that so it has to go somewhere. And almost all the time it ends up in your trash right now. So this is something to curtail that.”

Parkowski notes the program is funded by DSWA with about $50,000 a year, which can pay for installing one or two digestors based on the size. But if the program takes off, the funding could increase.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.