DEP, EPA and National Grid Celebrate Innovative Project that Converts Wastewater Into Renewable Energy

June 14, 2023

Project Diverts Organic Waste from Landfills, Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Improves Air Quality and Produces Enough Renewable Energy to Heat up to 5,200 Homes

Photos and a Graphic can be Found Here

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and National Grid today were joined by New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia, elected officials and community members, to celebrate the start of an innovative renewable biogas-to-grid project at DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) in Greenpoint.

The project, a first of its kind, is producing a reliable source of clean, renewable energy, reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, and is already improving air quality. The collaborative endeavor has the potential to produce enough renewable energy to heat nearly 5,200 homes in Brooklyn and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons—the equivalent of removing nearly 19,000 cars from the road per year or growing 1.5 million trees for 10 years.

“Making our organic waste work for NYC and diverting it from landfill is critical to building a more sustainable city,” said Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi. “At our Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility we are maximizing the benefits of the City’s historic curbside organics program converting leaf lawn and food scraps into home heat and many more beneficial uses.”

“EPA congratulates New York City for their efforts and execution of their organics recycling and food waste diversion,” said Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA supports the reduction and diversion of food waste, and other organic materials from landfills. Building renewable energy alternatives reduces air pollution and helps diversify the nation’s energy supply.”

“The renewable natural gas being created at our Newtown Creek facility plays an important role in New York City’s clean-energy transition,” said New York City Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “The only way to treat sewage creates methane, which can either be wasted by flaring it, or it can be re-used. Our ambition at DEP is to tie together the City’s organic waste and its need to decarbonize its buildings. While some buildings may be difficult to electrify in the near term, they can still decarbonize by using renewable natural gas from New York City’s sewage and food waste. DEP is working to expand its natural gas production and target it to these difficult-to-electrify buildings, even as DEP works to electrify its own facilities.”

“Under the Adams Administration, composting is finally coming to every part of the city. That means that for the first time, a third of all the trash can come out of the black bags, out of the landfills, and be put to beneficial reuse. Whether as compost or as renewable energy that goes into the grid to heat homes, that's a win that Mayor Adams has delivered,” said Jessica Tisch, Commissioner, New York City Department of Sanitation.

“We need to tackle every form of pollution to win the climate fight,” said New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe. “The New York League of Conservation Voters congratulates the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and National Grid on this groundbreaking project. By converting wastewater and food waste into renewable energy we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and displace fracked natural gas used for heating and cooking for thousands of Brooklyn homes. What’s taking place at the Newtown Creek facility is not only a powerful and innovative example of sustainable resource management, it shows that when government agencies, the private sector, and community members collaborate on environmental priorities, good things happen.”

The process starts with food scraps collected from sources including schools and the curbside organics program in Queens run by the Department of Sanitation. That organic material is further refined at Waste Management’s Brooklyn CORe plant before being added to wastewater in Newtown Creek’s “digester eggs.” The eggs, which act much like a human stomach, break down all the material. The digestion results in biogas and biosolids, which can then be used for fertilizer and ground cover.

Biogas, which is mostly methane, is a by-product of the wastewater treatment process. Methane is also the main component of natural gas. Each year, the Newtown Creek plant produces more than 500 million cubic feet of biogas. For many years, DEP has reused approximately 40 percent of the biogas produced at the plant in the boilers that provide heat to the buildings and digester eggs. The project with National Grid ensures that essentially 100 percent of the biogas now goes to beneficial reuse.

Emission reductions for this project will come from replacing fossil natural gas with renewable natural gas, reducing on-site flaring, avoiding methane emissions from landfilled organic material and reducing truck traffic to move that material to distant landfills. Taken together, the initiatives have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. National Grid financed the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the biogas purification system. DEP will initially provide the biogas free of charge. Once project costs have been recouped, profits will be split between DEP and National Grid’s customers.

“National Grid is dedicated to achieving an equitable transition and we are working with local partners and community leaders to make sure New York’s energy transition is clean, fair and affordable—leaving no one behind. At the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, we’re converting organic waste into useful renewable energy. We’re proud of this innovative project that is already reducing greenhouse gas emissions and look forward to building on this success to meet New York’s clean energy goals,” said National Grid New York Gas Business Chief Operating Officer Ross Turrini.

“We admire the great effort put together to divert organic waste from landfills and reduce fossil fuel use. We’d like to congratulate the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Sanitation and National Grid on reaching this important milestone that will help achieve New York City’s sustainability goals,” said Chris Farley, Area Vice President—Greater Mid-Atlantic, WM.

“Congratulations to NYC DEP and its partners, National Grid and Waste Management! They had a waste-to-renewable energy vision, collaborated successfully and made it a reality, turning Newtown Creek into a major clean energy source in Brooklyn,” said Energy Vision Founder Joanna D. Underwood. “Nationwide just 29 wastewater plants are working to implement elements of the waste-to-renewable energy strategy. But there are 16,000 publicly owned systems in the U.S., and many hundreds are large enough to do what New York City has done at its Newtown Creek facility. Surely, the time to get started is now.”

DEP operates 14 wastewater resource recovery facilities throughout the city that clean, treat and disinfect nearly 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every day. The Newtown Creek WRRF is located in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, and with a capacity to treat 310 million gallons of wastewater each day is the largest plant in the city. The plant was originally built in 1967 and underwent a multi-year, $5 billion upgrade that was completed in 2008. It accepts wastewater from more than 1 million residents across portions of southern and eastern Manhattan, western Queens, and northern Brooklyn.

With this biogas-to-grid project now online, the Newtown Creek plant becomes the first of DEP’s wastewater resource recovery facilities to achieve 100 percent beneficial reuse of its biogas year-round. DEP is identifying solutions to achieve the goal of 100 percent beneficial reuse of the biogas at each of the 14 WRRFs in New York City.

“As New York City tackles the climate crisis, we must embrace bold action that reduces emissions and helps us reach our climate goals,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “This innovative project will help divert waste, lower emissions, and decrease pollution, all while providing affordable renewable energy to help New Yorkers heat their homes. I’m proud to support this bold initiative, and I look forward to seeing the many benefits it brings the people of Brooklyn and Queens.”

“Finding creative ways to reuse the food waste this city produces is a key part in how we can create a more sustainable future,” said NYC Council Member and Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee James Gennaro. “The work being done at Newton Creek shows that smart planning more than pays for the cost of implementation. I applaud DEP for this first of its kind solution that will get us moving towards our goal of reducing fossil fuel usage. I also want to thank my colleagues in the Sanitation Committee for their work on the Zero Waste legislation and Mayor Adams for his active participation in implementing these measures.”

“The Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility serves as a model on how to use innovative solutions to reduce our emissions," said NYS Senator Kristen Gonzalez. “When food scraps get sent to landfills, they produce a significant amount of noxious gases, further accelerating an already deepening climate crisis. Furthermore, sending food waste to out-of-state landfills is expensive and is often harmful to environmental justice communities that shoulder disproportionate impacts. By using our food scraps to heat and power homes in the area, the Newtown Creek Facility is reducing the use of landfills and providing sustainable energy, all while creating rich soil! I will continue to support this facility as its footprint expands in my district and I hope its leadership can serve as a model for similar sites around New York and beyond.”

“I am proud to support the renewable energy initiative at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility,” said NYS Senator Kevin Parker. “By investing in sustainable energy solutions, we are not only reducing our carbon footprint, but also creating new jobs and supporting the growth of the clean energy industry. Initiatives like this are critical to building a more sustainable future for our state and our country.”

“I am pleased that National Grid and DEP have at long last completed the renewable gas-to-grid project at the Newtown Creek Wastewater facility,” said City Council Member Lincoln Restler. “Our teams met on a monthly basis to ensure progress was being made on this complicated and critical project. Greenpointers and New Yorkers will all benefit from less methane being released into our atmosphere.”

“Today’s announcement of the Newtown Creek WRRF anaerobic digestion project will allow us to learn more about the impacts and benefits of these new biogas to grid systems, as New York City moves away from fossil fuels. The Zero Waste Act passed last week mandated zero waste to landfills and incinerators by 2030, along with a citywide curbside organics collection program. I recognize anaerobic digestion will also be part of the broader waste diversion strategy. I look forward to collaborating with DEP and DSNY to ensure the future of organics processing is rooted in regenerative composting systems and safe beneficial uses of all organic matter,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse, Chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management.

“It is essential to the long-term survival of our city that we develop local forms of renewable energy to power the five boroughs. Today’s announcement is an incredible step forward in building resilient infrastructure for future generations in New York City,” said City Council Member Shahana Hanif. “The Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility will help power thousands of homes across our city with truly clean renewable energy. I’m looking forward to more sites opening across our city to ensure we can power every home with clean energy for generations to come.”

“The biogas-to-grid project is an example of how a waste stream can be converted into a useful and sustainable product that will benefit the City’s residents while achieving substantial energy and environmental benefits,” said Manhattan College’s Robert Sharp, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“The completion of the Newtown Creek project is an important step forward on the path to achieving the deep decarbonization of New York’s economy,” said Tristan Brown, Director of the Bioeconomy Development Institute at SUNY-ESF. “New York’s CLCPA rightfully places strong emphasis on the abatement of methane emissions, and Newtown Creek is an excellent example of how we can destroy methane while simultaneously displacing fossil fuels.”

About DEP

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.5 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP also protects the health and safety of New Yorkers by enforcing the Air and Noise Codes and asbestos rules. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $31.3 billion in investments over the next 10 years. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.