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The Circular Economy: Foodies and Natural Living Advocates Join the Conversation

Recyclers are typically known for driving the circular economy: e.g. putting things back to use instead of to the landfill. At Harvest, we’ve noticed a trend in the media signaling that foodies and health conscious folks are increasingly shaping the conversation. Here are four reasons why this might be happening.

Targeting wasted food saves money and resources.

Folks in the restaurant industry know that, in the United States, 40% of the food we produce is going to waste (see Wasted! video, below). Targeting this dumpster-bound material by with the classic three R’s – reducing it (aligning supply with demand with data-driven programs such as LeanPath), reusing it (see this clever reuse of food waste in ice cream), or recycling it (composting) – saves costs and resources. Foodie and columnist Andy Clurfeld spurred her restauranteer readers to do just this in NJ Monthly’s article, “Waste Not: Pro Chef, Home Cook – Everyone Can Compost.

 

Good soil grows yummier food.

By recycling organics back to the earth, it improves the soil which enhances the crop’s flavor. Increasingly, restaurants have direct relationships with local sources of produce and protein. Those same farms that provide veggies can then possibly take in the veggie scraps for composting. Compost begets healthier soil, which yields stronger, tastier veggies. It’s a full circle of win win wins.

People care about safe and clean environments.

Speaking of circles, the apt phrase “What goes around comes around” comes into play when we’re talking about organic waste and healthy soil. Compost helps eliminate the bad, and helps boost the good. As Harvest recently contributed to a New England publication:

Did you know that in one teaspoon of living soil there are 100 million to 1 billion bacteria? These bacteria act like an enormous, microscopic, hungry army that metabolizes surrounding materials. Similar to if you surrounded yourself with a robust community of diverse individuals that supported your growth, compost is like a mini ecosystem party. The billions of microorganisms in each teaspoon of compost mentioned earlier in this article help regulate the soil, suppress disease, and discourage pests. It’s a small, wild world teeming with life, and compost helps the good guys keep playing all season long.

Read the full article, “Soil as a Gateway for Eliminating Toxins” in Natural Nutmeg.

Food waste is the epicenter of energy, nutrients, and innovation.

Recently, Edible Orlando columnist Marta Madigan took a tour of Harvest’s Energy Garden in Orlando, Florida. In the resulting article she describes the transformation of regional food scraps into clean energy and class AA granular fertilizer. With this facility, Central Florida is at the forefront of innovation.

Do you consider yourself a foodie or a health nut? What’s your interaction with food waste?

Food Waste Management in NYC

The big apple has some big apple cores to manage. In a recent New York Times article, Emily S. Rueb explores how the city is planning to expand food waste recycling. Here are the top elements we noticed.

  1. Accessible visuals. While some characterized the cartoons as “Jabba the Hutt-esque and scary,” they show some fairly intricate processes – sorting out plastics; turning organics into compost; turning organics into biogas used to power homes and fuel vehicles – with simple diagrams.
  2. Great quotes. Shout out to the ever eloquent Ron Gonen, who was part of our SXSW Eco “Food Waste Frontier” panel.
  3. Dense city!  The author provides a sense of the scale of the city with these statements: “Smaller cities like Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Seattle all have mandatory programs. But the population of those three places combined is smaller than Brooklyn or Queens alone.”
  4. Good portrayal of challenges. Many of the barriers to organic waste recycling – collection, hauling, costs, and processing – come to life. She notes that composters “are accustomed to processing farm waste like rotting vegetables, which is somewhat different from handling the Chinese takeout and fettuccine Alfredo that city dwellers toss.”
  5. Super links. Not only is the article well researched, but also includes links to actionable items in the Q&A at the end of the article.

Bravo to all who helped bring this story to life. Read it here.

The Food Waste Frontier: Harvest Power Turns Juice into Juice

earth911Earth911, “The Food Waste Frontier: Harvest Power Turns Juice into Juice,” by Madeleine Somerville

I’m no stranger to green living and sometimes it feels like I’ve seen it all. I wrote a book chock full of recipes for things like Eco-friendly toothpaste and laundry detergent, I’ve interviewed green-trepreneurs, and I’ve reported on everything from sustainable schools to winter biking. But this story is without a doubt one of the coolest environmentally friendly initiatives I have ever seen.

Disney World’s biogas facility: a model for converting food waste into energy

guardianGuardian Sustainable Business, “Disney World’s biogas facility: a model for converting food waste into energy,” by Marc Gunther

 

The circular economy at Disney World may not be as pretty as Cinderella’s Castle, but this process for turning organic waste into energy, which is known as anaerobic digestion, could turn out to be the best way to extract value from food scraps and treated sewage that would otherwise wind up in a landfill.

 

“We’re able to turn all of the waste stream into productive products,” says Kathleen Ligocki, the chief executive of Harvest Power, a venture capital-funded clean-tech company that built the Florida facility. “This is our goal – pumpkins to power, waste to wealth.”

Metro Vancouver hopes to boost compost rates with new ad campaign

 

business-in-vancouver[1]Business in Vancouver, “Metro Vancouver hopes to boost compost rates with new ad campaign.”

 

food scraps isnt garbage

Metro Vancouver is hoping an adorable mascot made out of pasta leftovers will convince residents that “food isn’t garbage.”

Banning organic material from the landfill will reduce methane gas, a contributor to global warming, according to Metro Vancouver. Businesses like Harvest Power and Delta-based EnviroSmart Organics turn food waste into valuable compost and, in Harvest Power’s case, energy.

$42 Billion for Smarter Waste Management

Forbes[1]Forbes,$42 Billion for Smarter Waste Management,” by Heather Clancy

 

With the volume of municipal solid waste (MSW) projected to reach 2.2 billion tons by 2023 (compared with 1.5 billion tons this year), communities and businesses are reconsidering disposal strategies with an eye toward minimizing consumption and getting smarter about recovery.

That movement will inspire investments in smart waste technologies to help with collection, processing, energy recovery and disposal, to the tune of $42 billion cumulatively between now and 2023, predicts Navigant Research.

Massachusetts’ New Composting Rules: What They Really Mean

Boston-Globe[1]Boston Globe Magazine: Massachusetts’ New Composting Rules: What They Really Mean, by Chris Burdik

 

As of Oct. 1,Massachusetts has banned any establishment that creates a ton or more of food waste per week from sending as much as a carrot peel to the state’s rapidly dwindling available landfills. Despite a recycling rate topping 40 percent, Massachusetts businesses and households still toss about 6.5 million tons of garbage every year — enough to fill up Fenway Park 74 times.