Turning Trash into Energy

You may call it trash. At John Deere Electronic Solutions (JDES) in Fargo, North Dakota, we call it energy.

To align with John Deere’s 2018 Eco-Efficiency Goals, the electronics manufacturing facility set out four years ago to recycle at least 75% of its waste. At the time, JDES-Fargo recycled 45% of its waste. Like many offices, recycling involved multiple collection bins: one for trash and others for recyclables such as aluminum cans, paper, and plastic bottles, all taking up valuable space.

To help reach the more ambitious goal, JDES-Fargo changed how it approached waste management.

Now, all waste from two of its four main buildings is collected and squeezed into shipping containers with a high-density compactor to create refuse-derived fuel (RDF). It’s then shipped monthly to a facility in Minnesota where the refuse is used to generate electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, enabling the facility to power 25,000 homes per year.

Equally impressive is the amount of garbage diverted from local landfills. Since making the refuse-to-energy switch in April, 2016, JDES-Fargo has prevented more than 51 tons of garbage from being dumped into a landfill. The facility plans to expand the RDF option to its other two buildings in the future.