In the northwestern United States, the city of Seattle requires its residents to separate food waste from the rest of their trash. The food gets recycled into compost for lawns, gardens and, soon, into electricity.
美国西北地区的西雅图市要求居民把残羹剩饭等食品垃圾跟其他垃圾分开。食品垃圾回收发酵以后,用来给草坪和花园施肥,而且不久以后,还可以用来发电。

Every day, at Cedar Grove Composting north of Seattle, truck after truck pulls into this huge warehouse to dump loads of food and yard waste.
在西雅图北面的杉木林积肥场,每天都有卡车一辆接着一辆开进这个巨大的仓库,倾卸满载的食物垃圾和庭院废弃物。

"There's a nice mix of green waste and material. We actually have different seasons here in the tipping building," says Susan Thoman, business development director for Cedar Grove. "There's pumpkin season, that's the first of November after Halloween. We have Christmas tree season, which is obviously the first part of January after the holidays."
杉木林积肥场的业务发展部主任苏珊.托曼说:“绿色废物和材料很好的混合在一起。实际上在这个垃圾场有不同的季节。有南瓜季节,那是万圣节后的11月1号。有圣诞树季节,明摆着那是节日之后的1月上旬。”

According to Thoman, food waste and yard waste are currently all dumped in a pile together. Then they're mixed with microbes, ground up, and poured in long, covered rows to biodegrade for a month.
托曼说,现在食品垃圾和庭院废弃物都堆放在一起。然后,这些废物里搀进微生物,碾碎,再注入一个长形的有盖子的池子里沤上一个月。

The people who work at Cedar Grove talk about compost the way chefs talk about food. Thoman digs her hands into a rich, dark pile of the finished product.
在杉木林积肥场工作的人谈论起积肥来就像厨师谈论菜肴一样。托曼把手伸进一堆沤好的肥润乌黑的产品当中。

"This is what it's all about, though, here. This is what those wonderful things we divert from the landfill turn into."
她说:“这才是它全部的意义所在。这是我们变废为宝搞出来的东西。”

Alternative energy

Now Cedar Grove has a new recipe in mind for its food waste. Before turning banana peels and bread crusts into compost, the company wants to use them to create alternative energy.
目前,杉木林积肥场正在考虑一个新的处理食物垃圾的方案。在把香蕉皮和面包屑放进积肥堆之前,公司要用它们来创造替代能源。

Food waste would be separated and sprinkled with bacteria to help the food begin to break down. Then it would be poured into a closed container called an anaerobic digester, where the decomposing food would start releasing large amounts of methane.
处理过程是这样的:先把食物垃圾分离出来,添加细菌,帮助食物垃圾分解。然后,注入一个叫作真空消化器的封闭容器,分解的食物垃圾在这里面开始释放大量的沼气。

Instead of letting that methane escape into the atmosphere, where it could contribute to global warming, Cedar Grove would suck it up and store it. Then they could burn it, to power and heat the compost facility.
如果这些沼气进入大气层,将会加剧全球变暖现象。杉木林积肥场将把这些沼气收集储存起来。然后,他们可以把沼气当成燃料,给积肥场供电供暖。

Lawrence Klein, technology and development planner for Cedar Grove, says they could also convert the gas from the food waste to compressed natural gas, to fuel their trucks.
劳伦斯.克莱恩是杉木林积肥场的技术和发展规划师。他说,他们也可以把食物垃圾产生的沼气转换成压缩天然气,给他们的卡车当燃料。

"I mean, it's a beautiful image," says Klein. "It's taking a waste product and then driving down the highway with it. I'm excited about it."
“我是说,这是个美丽的前景。利用废物制成产品,然后用它来驾驶汽车跑在公路上。我为此而激动。”

Electrifying waste

The natural gas could also provide electricity.
这种天然气也可以提供电力。

"That's somewhere in the lines of eight million to 10 million kilowatt hours per year," says Klein. "That's comparable to about 400-plus Seattle homes."
每年发电量在800万到1000万千瓦/小时之间。这相当于西雅图400多住家的用电量。

Turning food waste into biogas would make food recycling more profitable - especially because the food could still be used for compost after the gas-extraction process.
化食物垃圾为生物气体将使食物回收利用业更加有利可图,尤其是因为这些食物垃圾经过燃气提炼以后仍然可以用来积肥。

"Garbage is the key to sustainability," says Sally Brown, a soils scientist at the University of Washington. According to Brown, turning food scraps into energy may be new to Americans, but it's well-established in Europe.
布朗是华盛顿大学的肥料学科学家。她说,化食物废料为能源,这在美国人看来可能是新鲜事,可是在欧洲,已经发展的很好了。

"It's not the whole solution, but it's something that we have the technology in hand and it's something that can be done right away to provide a significant amount of electricity."
她说:“这不能解决所有问题。可是,这是我们已经拥有现成技术的东西,是马上就可以做的事情,用来提供数量可观的电力。”

Wastewater treatment plants around the country already use anaerobic digesters to produce biogas from solid waste. Brown says food waste is even more efficient because it hasn't been eaten yet. That means it's still full of calories - and calories are energy.
美国各地的废水处理厂已经在利用真空消化器处理固体废料,生产生物气体。布朗说,食物垃圾的效率更高,因为这些食物没有被人们吃掉,也就是说,里面仍然充满了卡路里,而卡路里就是能源。

Cedar Grove has gotten a million-dollar grant from the state government to pursue its food-to-fuel plan. The company is in the design and permitting phase.
杉木林积肥场从州政府那里获得了100万美元拨款,以便实施它的食物变燃料计划。公司正处在设计和申请许可的阶段。

Once construction starts, it could be up and running within a year.
不过,一旦工程建设开工,它可能在一年内竣工并投入运营。