Stanley Consultants earns national engineering award for Iowa organic recycling center

Muscatine, Iowa – A project designed by Stanley Consultants was named a national finalist in the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) prestigious Engineering Excellence Awards for 2021. The Muscatine, Iowa, organic waste recycling project won a Grand Award in the association’s overall category. Stanley Consultants is a worldwide provider of consulting engineering services.

ACEC describes the Stanley Consultants entry as “Converting Organic Waste into Liquid Gold.” The Muscatine recycling center represents the new “zero waste” movement towards municipal sustainability.

Nationally, an average of 40 percent of food produced is disposed of in landfills. The City of Muscatine Organics Recycling Center (MORC) 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.

"Not only is Muscatine on the map as the only Midwest municipal de-packaging facility, but it also comes with the bonus of having the hometown firm (Stanley Consultants) alongside of it," said Jon Koch, director of Muscatine's Water & Resource Recovery Facility.

"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."

According to Koch, based on projected revenue from tipping fees, the $3 million project will pay for itself in four to six years. 

“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. While some of our competitors are working in liquid waste digestion, very few have experience in this type of high-strength waste receiving and processing,” he added.

Known as the Academy Awards of the engineering industry, the Engineering Excellence Awards competition includes about 200 contestant projects. Twenty of these are named Honor Award winners and 16 are named Grand Award Winners. Those 16 compete for the Grand Conceptor award for project of the year. The ACEC competition is based on such elements as innovation, new applications of technology, enhanced public awareness and future value to the engineering profession.

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About Stanley Consultants

Stanley Consultants provides program management, planning, engineering and environmental services worldwide. Recognized for its commitment to client service and a passion to make a difference, Stanley Consultants brings global knowledge, experience and capabilities to serve federal, municipal and industrial clients in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Since 1913, Stanley Consultants has successfully completed more than 25,000 engagements in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and in 110 countries. For more information on Stanley Consultants, please visit http://www.stanleyconsultants.com.

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