Simplot honored for green-friendly efforts

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Moses Lake Simplot's manufacturing manager Mark Knight, center, holds an Environmental Excellence award from the Association of Washington Business in Spokane earlier this week. Standing, from left, Heather Burgess of Phillips Wesch Burgess PLLC; Tara Swanson, Simplot Moses Lake plant environmental supervisor; Jackie Keele, Simplot Moses Lake plant process water treatment coordinator; Doug Bayne, chair of the board for the Association of Washington Business, and Maja Bellon, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology. Seated, from left, are Simplot Moses Lake plant employees Lance Carter, Knight, and Andy Erickson, environmental and farm supervisor.

MOSES LAKE - Several green initiatives in place at J.R. Simplot's Moses Lake facility were highlighted during a recent Association of Washington Business meeting.

The potato processing plant received an AWB Environmental Excellence award in Spokane earlier this week. Simplot was one of seven Washington businesses to win an award this year.

According to AWB president Don Brunell, Environmental Excellence awards are given to businesses that implement progressive and environmentally sensitive practices.

"These award winners are meeting the needs of their customers and taking care of their communities while showing that environmental sustainability is a smart way to do business," he said.

Simplot's use of its anaerobic digester was one reason the company received the award. The digester, nicknamed Bertha, allows the company to recycle wastewater from their potato processing into high nutrient irrigation water.

The digester began operating in 2007, according to a previous Columbia Basin Herald article. It holds up to 20 million gallons of process water.

A storage pond also holds about 220 million gallons of processed water during non-irrigation periods. The water is recycled by irrigating about 9,600 acres of crops, including sweet corn, potatoes, wheat and alfalfa.

The irrigation water saves growers about $800,000 a year, according to the AWB.

The digester also produces up to half a million cubic feet of biogas a day. The biogas is pumped back to the plant to produce steam necessary for French fry production, according to the article.

The biogas produced from the digester offsets up to 15 percent of the plant's fuel needs, said farm manager Andy Erickson in September.

AWB also recognized Simplot for helping feed cattle in the area with peels and potato waste generated while making French fries. Simplot also won the award because potato starch from processed water can be recovered and used for paper manufacturing.

The company also partners with a neighbor to use their industrial waste as a fuel source in a boiler to burn a unique blend of bio, hydrogen and natural gases, according to AWB.

Simplot reduced its hazardous waste generation by 88 percent since 2001, another reason AWB gave Simplot the award.

Plant manufacturing manager Mark Knight said the work of employees at the facility helped them win the award, not just the state-of-the-art equipment.

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