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Food Becoming Fuel For Sacramento City Trucks, Street Sweepers

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Food once tossed in the trash is now powering cars in Sacramento.

A first-of-its-kind program is already showing benefits for the city of Sacramento.

It's like a scene out of Back to the Future II, using food for fuel.

The future is officially here in Sacramento as the city is the first in the nation to turn leftovers into renewable natural gas.

Here's how it works: Food scraps go into the big metallic stomach of what's called the biodigester machine. A UC Davis scientist invented it. Methane comes out at the other end.

"After that, we refine it, so it's transportation quality."

Two to three tons of food waste going through the process can be transformed into the equivalent of 50 diesel gallons.

And it's exactly what powers the recycling trucks that used to run on diesel.

Now the city will get a big taste of this technology, fueling a fleet of city trucks and street sweepers.

It's not only greener, it's cheaper.

"We estimate we save $1 million per year just from not having to use diesel here in the city."

"We went from three dumpsters of landfill in a week to less than one."

Restaurant owner Patrick Mulvaney provides scraps for food fuel, and another green use.

"Some becomes fertilizer for plants that grow and come back into the restaurant."

It all comes full circle. The future is now, and Sacramento is at the head of the table.

"It sets an example and the tone for private enterprise, investment, economic opportunity. And best of all, it's creating jobs."

The renewable natural gas is also made into electricity that powers both Cleanworld and the Atlas Disposal Facilities.

The city says you will see the new fleet of cleaner city vehicles on the streets by the end of the year.

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