Agriculture Harvest Power anaerobic digestion facility

Published on October 21st, 2011 | by Glenn Meyers


Harvest Power Provides Sustainable Solutions from Organic Waste

October 21st, 2011 by  

Harvest Power anaerobic digestion facility

Providing a detour for organic waste on its way to the landfill can bring a cornucopia to harvest.

That’s exactly what Paul Sellew set out to accomplish. A few years ago, he saw an extraordinary option in converting organic waste into a series of viable products. He opted to divert organic waste from what had been the standard waste stream approach that fed organic trash like leaves, grass, food and animal waste to landfills, and manufacture revenue-generating products. As a result, Sellew and Nathan Gilliland founded Harvest Power in 2008 and set up shop in Waltham, MA.

Now, little more than three years after launching, Harvest Power will generate almost $100 million in revenue from the products and services it provides. The product list includes soil, mulch, and fertilizer that have been derived from organic waste for replenishing the soil. Add methane to the list of products, a dangerous greenhouse gas that provides a sustainable clean energy source when properly managed.

“We are a business that manages organic materials,” Sellew says with a matter-of-fact tone. He is no stranger to the organics business. In 1982 he founded Earthgro, Inc., which became the second largest producer of compost-based lawn and garden products in North America.

Unlike his days at Earthgro, Harvest Power doesn’t just build large compost piles; it manages the organic waste it hauls by initially feeding it through an airtight anaerobic digestion facility. Here, microbes that exist without air begin to create a digestate that can generate methane gas, which in turn, can be used to generate fire and electricity.

“The great thing about anaerobic digestion,” observes Sellew, “is nutrients in, nutrients out. Anaerobic digestion is clearly the leading technology.”

This motion graphic on You Tube offers a very good explanation about how Harvest Power’s anaerobic digestion process functions.

While some large landfill operators – such as Waste Management – already operate waste-to-energy facilities that produce electricity and liquid natural gas, none to date have approached organics quite the way Harvest Power does, by removing valuable assets from the landfill instead of leaving them there.

The Harvest Power website offers this assessment about the organic waste stream it manages how it approaches the idea of sustainable solution: “By harnessing the carbon, energy, and nutrient value in organic materials, we provide sustainable solutions.”

We all need plenty more of these simple innovations that lead to sustainable solutions.

Photos: Harvest Power 
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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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  • Anonymous

    Great company doing great things for our environment and future. You can’t invest in the company though, supported by venture capitalists and large corporations exclusively.

  • Anonymous

    This is so right! Revival of the old American Spirit! So good to see progress like this! Damned sure this industry will not move to China! Domestic methane fuel! no tax on it to support foreign parasite nations! Go figure! Fertilizers , Top Soil Building – Good for the land, our Land! no burnt fields! cleaner lakes rivers seashores! Win – Win – Win! American spirit re-born! Now! Old car tires to oil? Hemp for lots of free fiber (Canadian labs distinguish for cheap if Yank labs can’t! – call us!) Hemp grows where food won’t – scrub lands, poor ground! Imagine the Solar/electric power the cash wasted in Afghanistan could have bought – perpetual, domestic power! Prairie Wind Corridor – Still Blowing! Still has potential to power the U.S.A.! Still perpetual, renewable and mostly Domestic energy!

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