Johnstown: One Company's Trash is Someone Else's Energy

A grant from National Grid, town bonds and several other grants adding up to $7 million, and now Johnstown is leading the state in an innovative way to take care of waste.

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. -- A yogurt company and a waste facility have a symbiotic relationship in Johnstown. 

Fage, the company known for making Greek yogurt has brought an economic boom to the small town west of the Capital Region. In order to make their yogurt Greek, they strain out the whey leaving 460,000 gallons of waste in whey a week, and the wastewater facility has to keep up. 

Tyler Masick is the manager of the wastewater program at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility. To keep up with Fage and the environment, they just became the first in the state to turn their waste into energy and send it back to the grid. 

"You need to do good to the environment so this is one of the ways to do it," said Masick. 

Without this new technology, Fage wouldn't be able to go through with their $150 million expansion.

"If they can't expand, basically they have to look for another site," Masick said. "Possibly out of New York state and out of the area so spending that money here and keeping them here was important."

Fage's trash is the entire town's treasure.  

Euphrates Cheese in Johnstown also produces whey as waste. They end up with about 100,000 gallons a week. In addition to the whey, both companies produce waste in the form of the water they use to clean their pipes and trucks. That comes to about 400,000 gallons a day. 

Masick says in order to be able to create bio gas and electricity, the waste has to be high strength, so it really does go both ways. Without Fage, Masick's facility couldn't turn waste into energy and without their waste turning into energy, Fage would have to move.

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