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What is FPR? FPR is a type of waste that comes from meat, fruit and vegetable processing companies.  Manure is another type of organic waste, as are green waste, silage, slurry, milk, etc from gardening and other horticulture and agriculture industries.


DEP’s Food Processing Residual Manual (FPR), pg 2: An FPR is an incidental organic material generated by processing agricultural commodities for human or animal consumption.  The term includes food residuals, food coproducts, food processing wastes, food processing sludges, or any other incidental material whose characteristics are derived from processing agricultural products.  Examples include:  process wastewater from cleaning slaughter areas, rinsing carcasses, or conveying food materials; process wastewater treatment sludges; blood; bone; fruit and vegetable peels; seeds; shells; pits; cheese whey; off-specification food products; hides; hair; and feathers.


Fertilizer or Waste? Industry has historically been required to treat FPR as a waste.  They must either send it to the landfill or to a sewage treatment facility.


In an effort to reduce waste in landfills (1990s), Pennsylvania waste authorities started promoting food waste recycling for human use, animal use, or fertilizer.  Human use is the highest “beneficial use”, and fertilizer is the lowest. Beyond those uses wastes have to go to a landfill or hazardous waste disposal site.  Landfill and sewage disposal fees have risen, so businesses are incented to reduce their costs by implementing this recycling. 

Fertilizers contain essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  These nutrients can also be found in FPRs.  Amounts vary depending on the specific food production process that produced the FPR.

DEP waste or fertilizer from FPR manual section 3.1 Is Your FPR a Waste? Food processing wastes and food processing sludges are considered wastes unless they meet the exemption provided in the waste definition, Section 287.1 of the residual regulation, qualified as coproduct (Sections 287.1 & 287.8), or are materials from the slaughter and preparation of animals that are used in manufacturing of products. The definition of waste does not include materials directly returned to the original process from which they were generated without first being reclaimed, or materials from the slaughter and preparation of animals that are used in the manufacturing of products. A coproduct is a material generated by a manufacturing process that is not the product but can be used as a substitute for land application or energy recovery in lieu of a product or raw materials. A coproduct is not a waste and is therefore not regulated under the PADEP Residual Waste Regulations (Title 25, Ch. 287-289). Accordingly, coproducts are exempt from all PADEP requirements noted in this manual. If you make the claim that you are producing a coproduct, you bear the burden of proof that the material is in fact a coproduct. Accordingly, thorough chemical and physical characterization is necessary.”


How does an FPR go from waste to fertilizer? As we understand it per the lawyers, in the Nolt example the FPR would be a “waste” from leaving the manufacturer, while being stored in the pit, and until application on a field – at which time it becomes a fertilizer.


Waste FPRs are allowed on farms because the soil is the treatment medium. Using FPRs safely requires specific soil and land characteristics: 

  • Adequate soil depth, drainage and texture are critical to filter FPR contents before they reach groundwater. 

  • It’s critical that FPR it not spread near surface waters (streams, ponds, wetlands, etc), or near wells, sinkholes, undrained depressions, or bedrock outcrops. 

  • It’s important that FPR it not spread on slopes  greater than 15% (3% in winter) or stormwater runoff could wash it into these areas.


Antrim Township, PA describes severe groundwater contamination from FPR spreading for just 2 years.  Water testing showed high nitrites, E. coli and coliform bacteria

DEP Characteristics of Interest in FPRs Per FPR Manual, Pg 66.  Contaminants found in FPR

  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)

  • Pathogens

  • toxicity

  • Fats & oils

  • Heavy metals & PCBs

  • Soluble salts

  • Nutrients

  • Odors

  • Foreign materials

  • Organic matter (OM)

  • pH

  • C:N ratio

  • Foreign materials

  • solids content

  • Calcium carbonate


DEP Food Processing Residua (FPR) Management Manual

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