Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



The goal of this project was to design and evaluate a project for the collection and processing of food waste and spent oil in Philadelphia. The project was designed to handle 5% of the total commercial waste generated in Philadelphia. This amounted to approximately 9,700 tons/year of food waste and 73,000 gallons/year of spent oil. The process was designed to utilize a BIOFerm™ Dry Fermentation Digestion System. Following the digestion, the biogas produced is passed through a Caterpillar CG132-12 Generator Set, producing electricity to be sold back to the local grid. The digestate from the anaerobic digestion is used to produce compost, providing an additional revenue stream. In addition to handling the solid food waste, the project is designed to convert the collected spent oil into biodiesel using prepackaged processing units by Springboard Biodiesel. The facility is anticipated to annually produce 2,541 tons of biogas, 5,184,000 kWh of electricity, 14,756 tons of compost, and 59,616 gallons of biodiesel. A rigorous profitability analysis was conducted in order to project cash flows for fifteen years. The total capital investment of the plant is $5.6MM and the expected NPV of the project is -($682,000). The estimated IRR of the project is 12% and the 3-year ROI is 7%. Given the project’s negative NPV, our recommendation is to adopt such a process solely for environmentally beneficial waste management purposes. A key takeway is that in order for such a project to be profitable it would need to target more than just 5% of the total commercial food waste produced.



Date Posted: 21 April 2017