Every year in the U.S. 34 million tons of food is wasted and carted to landfills. Beyond contributing to the dangerous methane released into the atmosphere every year, for densely populated areas the process is unbelievably costly and grossly inefficient.
To put the traditional waste management process in perspective, here’s what we’re talking about.
Trash is bagged and dragged to the curb, picked up by diesel-consuming trucks, driven miles away to a transfer station, dumped, pushed and re-loaded to a second diesel-consuming truck to then drive many more miles before it’s eventually buried in a landfill to degrade over time.
I spent 25 years in traditional waste management where I ran five landfills, and during this time what I learned is that it’s an ineffective and messy process, and most importantly, it is simply unsustainable.
So about a decade ago I made the decision to stop doing things the way they’ve always been done and look to the future. At that time different technologies were emerging to manage the problem and I looked to organic waste, specifically food waste, which seemed to be – if you’ll excuse the pun – the lowest hanging fruit.
As a result, today I’m the CEO of BioHiTech Global, a green tech company at the forefront of a transformational period in the field of waste management. Among our many solutions, we provide aerobic digesters – an environmentally responsible on-site solution for food waste disposal. Our machines break down food waste via microorganisms, producing a liquid that can be safely discharged to the sewage stream – often saving businesses as much as 40% of the cost to dispose of this waste, by reducing the costs of transportation, and of course the damage to our environment caused from food waste sitting in a landfill.
In addition to my role as CEO of BioHiTech, I also serve as a director and officer of Entsorga West Virginia, the first of its kind resource recovery facility currently being constructed in the United States, that combines a mechanical sorting facility with a proprietary biological treatment (“MBT”) system to process mixed waste streams and turn carbon based materials, including the organic fraction, into renewable fuel.. Like our digesters, the process accelerates the natural degradation of waste using oxygen but converts the waste into usable fuel.
As well as adopting new methods for disposal, we’ve also tapped into innovations around data collection, using cloud technology to measure key metrics. The common misconception is that the root of the food waste problem is how we’re disposing of it. But in reality, the biggest issue is how much food waste we’re generating, and the only way to address it is to generate smarter, more meaningful data that can help a business identify efficiencies and best practices and, on the regulatory front, help us comply with existing and future reporting requirements.
Our world is constantly changing, and for any business or industry to survive, it is necessary to adapt and employ the best of emerging technologies. For a business, rethinking the way we approach waste certainly makes good financial sense, and when it comes to protecting our environment, it’s a no-brainer for all of us.