Microbes at FMH—the Good Ones—Are Tackling Tons of Food Waste

There’s a new player in town reducing the amount of food waste headed to the Frederick County landfill—actually a host of new players in the form of hungry microbes.

Frederick Memorial Hospital installed a BioHiTech EcoSafe digester,  an aerobic food waste disposal system.The digester began processing food waste from the kitchen and patient rooms in February 2018. So far, it’s reduced the hospital’s food waste being landfilled by nearly five tons a month. Overall figures for waste from the hospital were unavailable. Diverting the leftover food from the cafeteria, what’s known as “front of house”,  is a more complex feat and is not yet underway.


Emily Dyson checks out the EcoSafe digester in the FMH kitchen.

Emily Dyson, Director, Science Research and Development for BioHiTech, explained how the system works.
· Kitchen employees scrape the food waste during the dishwashing process into a 5-gallon bucket. When the bucket fills they dump the scraps into the digester.
· The system is housed in a steel container that resembles an industrial icemaker. The digester is maintained at between 105 and 115 degrees and has paddles to provide constant aeration which allows the microorganisms to reproduce at an optimum rate. The digester operates like a stomach and needs proper temperatures, oxygen, and bacteria to digester the food waste. BioHiTech uses a proprietary blend of microorganisms to facilitate digestion.


Hospital food scrap ready for aerobic microbial digestion!

· The digester can handle everything except bones, large amounts of meat, raw dough and rice, corn husks, cobs and pineapple tops. That’s because the outer surfaces are too hard for critters that break down. If you wouldn’t eat it neither will the critters!
· After the digestion process, the discharged liquid heads to a FMH grease trap where anything that is not digested is skimmed and the rest of the liquid heads to the Frederick City Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The digester so far has diverted 37,621 lbs since the system was installed fin February. That’s removed it from landfill disposal and changed it to effluent treated by the Frederick water treatment system. The microorganism blend contains no surfactants or man-made enzymes (what is added to dish detergent so that dishes get clean quickly). This is because surfactants only temporarily break down fats, oils, and greases which can recongeal in the treatment process into “fatbergs” that clog sewage treatment operations. The microorganisms used in the digesters continue to eat away at the fats, oils and greases as they continue down the sanitary sewer line.

The added value of the EcoSafe digester, BioHiTech says, is its smart technology. The hospital’s chef, nutritionists and operations team all can use the BioHiTech app on their phones connected to the microcomputer in the digester. It can tell them at any moment how much waste has been digested for any given time period, as well as other metrics such as the equivalent drop in trash truck trips; carbon footprint and water used.

The EcoSafe digester was downsized from its originally installed digester because the data provided the hospital food and nutrition team info that helped them to tweak what they buy and put on the menu so that organic waste was significantly reduced (a followup story on this coming in July!). This helped the hospital cut their food waste by 200 pounds weekly.

BioHiTech sees the system complementing other organic waste diversion practices coming on line in the states where composting and anaerobic digestion are being required through regulation. “The digester is one element of the solution for organic waste,” she said. “There is not one technology that is going to work to solve the organic waste issue in the US.”

C & O 2019 Calendar Available!

Order Your 2019 C&O Canal Calendar Today
The C&O Canal Trust’s 2019 calendar is available for purchase. This 18-month calendar lets you enjoy the beauty of the C&O Canal National Historical Park every day with its full-color photos taken in the Park.
These annual calendars are available for only $12.95.  Order here.
Proceeds from calendar sales benefit the C&O Canal Trust’s preservation and beautification work in the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

LEDS Demystified

Moving from incandescents and fluorescents to LEDS is an intelligent decision, according to lighting experts.

The average person, though, still seems a bit confused and distrustful of LEDs.

Think Lumens and Kelvins, not Watts.

No, it’s not a basketball team. Those names are lighting properties.: represent the amount of electricity consumed. For decades, with incandescents, consumers labelled bulbs by the “watts consumed” (60W-100W being average reading/every day lighting); we have trained ourselves to think of a certain brightness as 100-watt, and a softer light as a 60- or 40-watt.

Lumens: represent the brightness of a light. indicate the color of the light. The lower the number, the warmer the light.

To choose your LED lights, says Tracey Nadonley, the showroom consultant at Light and Day Lighting on Buckeystown Pike in Frederick, its important to look at all those properties together.

“People should look at lumens for how powerful a light is, and kelvins for the quality and color of the light,” she says. Watts no longer tell the whose story—unless the story is about how much less electricity is drawn by LED lights.

“A 2700 Kelvin light of 700 lumens that draws only 8 watts is similar to light of a 60-watt incandescent,” she says. The prices of the LEDs are coming down, running between $10 and $15. But compare the LED, lasting more than 25,000 hours, to a $1-$4 incandescent bulb—which lasts 2,000 hours, and the savings begin to mount.

Some people have trouble with the assumption that LEDS only come in harsh white or bluish light, but that also is not true. A 2700 Kelvin light has a warm, yellow light similar to incandescents. “Once people realize that, they’re sold,” she says.

For now, it’s still pretty common to have a choice between incandescents and LEDs, although a few contemporary designs now feature only LED fixtures, she says.

Another advantage you wouldn’t think of is that LEDs are much cooler, especially when they replace halogen lights, which can grow very hot to the touch.

The chart, put together by the US Department of Energy, shows a conversion between incandescent and LEDs.

Some critics still aren’t buying the LED switch and claim that they tend to dim throughout their lifetime. LEDs can take a few moments to “warm up” to their brightest, as well.

Are you doing a Switchout?

Local Home Depot stores will take your spent incandescent bulbs for recycling. Ask at the front when you arrive; they usually have a box set out near the store entrances to collect them.

Five Trees for Me! (And the City of Frederick)


Five Trees For Me is a program to encourage all City of Frederick residents to  plant five trees in their own yards or HOA common spaces.

The City’s goal is to reach 40% canopy coverage by 2030 and (currently coverage is at 19%).

The City’s Canopy assessment shows the most potential planting spaces are on private land.

Maryland DNR offers $25 tree coupons for trees on their recommended tree list if purchased from a participating nursery.

Send GreenFrederick a photo of your tree planting at your home! Send to lindanorriswaldt@gmail.com.

Collect Your Runoff in a RainBarrel & Water Your Garden Sustainably!

Rain barrels are an excellent choice for people who want to be prepared for the hot days of no rain that come in July and August. It only takes one rainstorm, generally, to fill them up and you’ve got water for your garden ready at hand.

You can buy them locally at the Scott Key Center on Rocky Springs Road in Frederick. They are made by clients in their supported employment program, which provide vocational and employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Never installed one? Just watch this video in which Eric Waldt demonstrates proper installation.