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EPA selects Montana State University to receive $299,881 in funding to initiate anaerobic digestion pilot study

Montana State University one of 12 organizations nationwide to receive funding to support anaerobic digestion in communities

Contact Information: 
Barbara Khan (

BOZEMAN — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Agency selected Montana State University (MSU) to receive approximately $300,000 in funding to help reduce food loss and waste and to divert food waste from landfills by expanding anaerobic digester capacity in Bozeman. EPA anticipates that it will make the award once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

“At EPA, we think about the entire life cycle of materials, not just what to do with them at the end of life,” said EPA Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “MSU’s project has great potential to feed soils and conserve moisture, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce food waste – all while working with and customizing solutions for the community.”

The grant award will fund a 12-household pilot study in Bozeman that will assess the potential of anaerobic digestion of food scraps to produce biofertilizer at the household level. During the 2-year study, MSU students, in cooperation with the City of Bozeman, will analyze the food waste generated by the households, develop mixes of food waste that can be anaerobically digested to nutritive fertilizers, and assess two different types of anaerobic digesters for their effectiveness and household usability. Following conclusion of the research, students will produce outreach materials and conduct a workshop to facilitate the upscaling of anaerobic digestion in households.

“This is an exciting project for MSU in that it advances researcher and student interest in diverting food waste from landfills, while also exemplifying our land-grant mission of integrating research, teaching, and service to communities,” said Alison Harmon, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Development at Montana State University. “The City of Bozeman will be an excellent learning partner in this endeavor to improve sustainability in our local food system.”

The anaerobic digestion funding opportunity is a part of EPA’s efforts and contributions to the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, a partnership among EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Food and Drug Administration, to reduce food loss and waste through individual and combined federal action. Anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down organic materials, such as food scraps, manure and sewage sludge, all in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas, which can be captured and used for energy production, and “digestate,” a nutrient-rich product, such as a fert

Anaerobic digestion is a strategy included in EPA’s food recovery hierarchy that is preferable to landfilling/incineration because it reclaims valuable resources. Keeping food waste from landfills, such as transforming it into fuel or fertilizer, can save money and reduce environmental impacts.


In 2019, EPA awarded a total of more than $110,000 in targeted cooperative agreements, to the City of Madison, Wisconsin, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Washington State University’s Energy Program for expanding anaerobic digester capacity. Plans from these recipients include holding workshops promoting anaerobic digestion projects and providing subawards and assistance opportunities for anaerobic digestion projects focusing on the food and beverage business sector.

For more information on anaerobic digestion, please visit:

To learn about other EPA Resources and Possible Funding Opportunities Related to the Food System, please visit: