Overview

Palo Alto has an incredible opportunity to convert its 60,000+ tons per year of organic waste (yard trimmings, food scraps and sewage sludge) into renewable energy and high quality compost.  Doing so would save the City more than $1,000,000 per year while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 20,000 tons per year.  This unique opportunity would help protect the environment while generating badly needed funds for the City. 

We invite you to help us in this campaign!

In 2009 Palo Alto’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Composting concluded that anaerobic digestion was the best way to handle the City’s organic waste.  This technology uses enclosed vessels to break down waste into natural gas and compost.  It would enable the City to retire its sewage sludge incinerator, one of only two remaining in the state.

The Location. The only feasible location for an anaerobic digestion facility is at the entrance to the City landfill next to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, not far from where we currently compost.  The challenge is that the landfill is scheduled to become part of the 126-acre Byxbee Park, and rezoning it for composting would require a vote of the people.

Profitable, Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure. A wise economic investment for Palo Alto.

  • $1,400,000 – Value of green energy generated by the facility each year.
  • $800,000 – Annual savings from not having to incinerate sewage sludge.
  • $200,000  – Annual savings from not having to dispose of waste ash.
  • $500,000 – Value of compost each year.
  • $1 million – Annual tipping fees for receiving Palo Alto’s organic waste.
  • Carbon credits generated by the project would likely have value in the future.

Energy Production and Greenhouse Gas Reductions.  The project converts a waste problem into renewable energy and greenhouse gas offsets.

  • Green power to 1,400 homes – Converting Palo Alto’s organic waste to energy would generate approximately 10 million kW/hrs of renewable electricity.
  • 20,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year could be kept out of the atmosphere through anaerobic digestion.
  • PricelessLocally-generated energy from waste conversion would continue Palo Alto’s long tradition of self-reliant infrastructure.

Maintaining Local Service. The project would maintain the current convenience of local yard trimming drop-off and compost pick-up.  Without this project, Palo Altans would have to travel to Sunnyvale.  Eighty percent of more than 1,000 people who responded to a survey by Palo Alto Online favored maintaining a composting facility in Palo Alto. 


This campaign advocates seizing a local opportunity to build a sustainable energy facility in Palo Alto, and solve an expensive organic waste problem.

The Palo Alto Weekly measured the sentiment of Palo Alto with 80% advocating to keep it local -- ultimately over 1,000 participated!

The facility embraces the park forming a sustainable gateway.  In this visualization half the facility is covered by a green roof with only finished compost showing - the noise, odors and smells are kept indoors.