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First Smartferm in U.S. launched by Zero Waste Energy and Monterey Regional Waste Management District

Dry anaerobic digestion transforms organic waste into electricity and high quality compost

First Smartferm in U.S. launched by Zero Waste Energy and Monterey Regional Waste Management District

The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) and Zero Waste Energy, LLC (ZWE)  held an open house January 25th, introducing  the United States' first dry anaerobic digester (AD) utilizing SMARTFERM technology for use in processing organic waste. Smartferm technology, developed in Germany, will be the first of its kind in the US and will turn organic waste such as food scraps into electricity and high-quality compost for agriculture use. This state-of-the-art processing system represents the next generation of organic waste management strategies to maximize energy and compost production.   

Smartferm’s 21 day batch process diverts over 99% of organic waste, reduces greenhouse gases, reduces reliance on landfills and produces a clean, green energy.  The technology is semi-mobile, space efficient, prefabricated, and scalable up to 30,000 tons of waste per year. These attributes enable the customer to reduce installation time and costs when compared to other AD technologies.

The Smartferm at the MRWMD is equipped to process up to 5,000 tons per year, creating 100kW of electricity or up to 3,200 BTU/Ton of Biogas with 58-60% methane content. The Smartferm technology will be manufactured in the US by a ZWE partner who is a leader in the manufacturing of waste industry equipment, Dover ESG.  

Seen as a pilot program, the Smartferm installation will help determine the role of anaerobic digestion in the future of organics management at the MRWMD, considered one of the most advanced waste management districts in the country. For the past four years, the MRWMD has been composting food scraps in response to requests from the local hospitality community’s interest in a more sustainable use for its organic waste. This dry AD project is the next achievement in efficiency for the District, who will sell the energy created from the dry AD to the neighboring Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency. 

 “We are grateful for the MRWMD, who has taken an innovate leadership role and helped bring this valuable, viable technology to the industry and the country”, said Eric Herbert, CEO of Zero Waste Energy. “We are confident that this will be the first of many SMARTFERM plants installed in the US over the next several years.”    

Anaerobic digestion (AD) has recently to come to the forefront of the waste industry. The installation at the MRWMD is the first dry AD project in the US for ZWE, with three others in the construction stages in California alone. Over 30 of the more traditional wet AD systems are also underway throughout the state, contributing to the approximately 200 throughout the country. Leading the way, Europe already has over 8,000 AD installations with as many as 25,000 planed by 2020 according to the German Biogas Association.   

Zero Waste Energy, LLC (ZWE) is a global project developer utilizing patented anaerobic digestion (AD) technology and resource recovery processes to solve pressing problems in the waste industry throughout North America. The company—founded in 2009 by an experienced group of innovative solid waste industry leaders---designs, builds, and operates integrated solid waste facilities that efficiently optimize waste diversion and generate renewable energy in an environmentally sound manner.  

Collectively, ZWE’s management team has over 100 years of experience in solid waste, recycling, composting and biogas recovery.

For more information on Zero Waste Energy, visit   

Founded in 1951, The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) manages the solid waste stream from greater Monterey Peninsula region, an area of approximately 853 square miles and 170,000 residents and visitors. In 1996, the District’s services expanded to include operation of a Materials Recovery Facility diverting a wide range of materials including: glass, concrete, reusable building materials, sheetrock, metals, plastics, and resale items, among others.  

Recognized as an industry leader, the award-winning District is home to the Last Chance Mercantile reuse store, Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, Public Drop-off Recycling Center, Landfill Gas Renewable Energy Power Plant, Small Planet School Education Garden, and the Monterey Peninsula Landfill.  

Since 1983, the District has operated a landfill-gas-to-energy program that converts methane gas to renewable energy and presently produces 5 mW of electricity -- enough energy to fulfill its own energy needs with enough surplus power sold to the grid to power 4,000 local homes.  

For more information on the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, visit