Fremont Regional Digester suspends operations amidst environmental concerns

The Fremont Regional Digester, operated by Generate Upcycle, is facing potential closure due to a shift in regulatory interpretation by Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). As per an email notification to its customers, the facility will stop accepting materials from December 29th. This decision follows EGLE’s reclassification of the facility’s digestate, which has been used as fertilizer for years, now deemed a pollutant.

The closure of the digester poses significant consequences, including the loss of 17 jobs. However, the broader impact extends to the economic fabric of the region, particularly affecting the Gerber plant and local farms that rely on the facility’s fertilizer. The digester plays a crucial role in providing easy access to fertilizer, underpinning the agricultural economy of the area.

Generate Upcycle responded to the move with disappointment but also a sense of opportunity for Michigan to continue leading in anaerobic digestion technology. The company advocates for a long-term regulatory framework that recognizes anaerobic digestion as a sustainable and safe technology. Such a framework would support Michigan’s waste, energy, and climate goals while fostering data-driven standards for recycling food waste, generating organic fertilizer, and producing renewable energy.

The company urges supporters to contact local representatives, State Senator Rick Outman and State Rep. Joe Fox. Despite the legislative break until January, there is hope that these officials will address the issue, given its urgency and impact on the community’s economic and environmental sustainability.

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