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Stanley Consultants Earns National Engineering Award for Iowa Organic Recycling Center

MUSCATINE, IA — A project designed by Stanley Consultants was named a national finalist in the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Engineering Excellence Awards for 2021. The Muscatine, Iowa, organic waste recycling project won a Grand Award in the association’s overall category. The Muscatine recycling center represents the new zero waste movement toward municipal sustainability.

Nationally, an average of 40 percent of food produced is disposed of in landfills. The City of Muscatine Organics Recycling Center separates food waste from packaging. Powerful spinning paddles break open packages and separate packaging material from organic waste, thus eliminating the cost of manual separation.

Organic waste is pumped into a tank where a bacterial process converts the materials into mostly methane, the primary component of natural gas. The packaging is then either recycled or disposed of and the organic waste is pumped into a large treatment tank, where it is blended and fed into the same anerobic digesters that clean the city’s municipal wastewater.

"Sustainability, evidenced by innovative recycling programs such as this one, is an important part of the cities and communities of today and tomorrow," said Stanley Consultants CEO Kate Harris. "Creative engineering brings solutions for the complex challenges we face in the world together.”

The recycling center is one of just three municipally-owned facilities of its kind in the U.S. and the only one in the Midwest. The facility, which opened in May 2020, has established Muscatine as an emerging regional hub for organic waste recycling.

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"Reclaiming organic waste for beneficial reuse is the start of our journey towards carbon neutrality and more advanced programs to reduce food waste, feed those in need, harness renewable energy, and bring sustainability into all our projects," said Jon Koch, Director of Muscatine's Water & Resource Recovery Facility.

“This project represents a growing aspect of the water business as wastewater treatment plants morph into water and resource recovery facilities,” said Jay Brady, Stanley Consultants Project Manager. “Our experience and success with this project positions Stanley Consultants to work with other municipalities that are contemplating similar projects."

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