Category Archives: Recycling

How to Solve the Food Waste Problem at its Root

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Food waste is a problem across the globe. From North America to Europe and as far east as Asia, many countries are having difficulty solving this complex problem because waste occurs all along the supply chain. Because a number of states in the U.S and Europe believe that they can have the most impact on adjusting what happens at the retail level, they are steering policy towards the diversion of the waste from landfills and supporting the use of any disposal solution that encourages the prevention of the waste.

In the past few years, many states in the U.S. have started passing food waste ban legislation where supermarkets, restaurants and other establishments generating significant amounts of food waste are required to either donate to those in need or dispose of the waste through methods such as composting, anaerobic or aerobic digestion but only a few of those legislative endeavors bravely suggest that accurate diversion data is as important as the diversion itself.

BioHiTech originally saw an opportunity in the food waste sector as a simple digestion solution that would offer a more cost-effective, environmentally sustainable way to dispose of food waste on-site. After applying advanced technology and machine learning to the digester, we recognized an even greater value to our customers in prevention. When you accurately measure and categorize food waste our customers have access to that data in real time that can be used to make informed decisions impacting food needs and affecting and reducing waste along the supply chain.

Measuring and understanding food waste is one of the most important steps to preventing food waste, and at BioHiTech we are continuing to find new and innovative ways to fix this global problem.

 

The Smarter Kitchen

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Choosing the right piece of equipment is crucial to the success of any restaurant, including waste disposal equipment, but facility managers must be wary, as equipment is no longer created equal. “Smart” connected products are going to transform the industrial equipment marketplace, will deliver the most business value, and have the largest impact. With restaurant management extending around the world, the need for these smart connected products are in great demand.

Powered by the Internet of Things, BioHiTech’s Revolution Series™ Digesters apply sensor technology, which enables the simple on-site food waste solution to capture a digital representation of the food waste volume in addition to the machine’s usage, performance, and status. The Digester’s Internet connectivity then enables the company and its customers the ability to communicate directly with the machine in order to manage and optimize its “smart” potential.

According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona, the average amount of purchased food that is wasted in a full-service restaurant is 11.3 percent making the management of cost of goods ongoing – every hour, every shift, every day, every week.

The Digester’s unique connective device provides the essential up-to-date, easy-to-access waste data 24/7/365 so that corrective actions can be taken proactively when necessary, improvements can be made to supply chain management for repeated success and work processes and waste reductions can be achieved routinely.

After the process of weighing each increment of waste to qualify its type and origin, the digester can eliminate as little as 100 pounds and as much as 2,400 pounds of food waste in a 24-hour period, depending on customer needs, by utilizing mechanical and biological treatment to convert the food waste into a liquid that is safely discharged through standard sewers.

The Digesters’ data is transmitted to the Company’s analytics cloud platform where the data is collected in real-time and also preserved historically so that trends can be analyzed and predicted. Knowing precisely what is being thrown away allows for the optimization of vendor and supplier orders to reduce the quantity of food waste planned for and received. Key metrics are also measured to help restaurant management be more efficient and effective with their labor, sales and ultimately disposal process.

Digitization also ensures ongoing compliance. Manual recording and associated documentation can now be replaced by fully automated methods and 24/7 access to reporting at your fingertips.

While most on-site food waste disposal solutions are expensive and designed for high volume users, BioHiTech’s Revolution Series targets low volume users, requires minimal floor space and has rapid throughput enabling the cost of use to be much lower than traditional waste disposal.

The next few years will be bringing monumental shifts to the industry to help to curtail waist and dispose of what is left in a more cost-effective manner. Choosing the right equipment will offer the process change necessary to accelerate smarter solutions and outcomes.

 

Maximizing the Value of Food Waste

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Tapping into the value of food waste reporting provides vital information to more directly answer 6 key questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where and How Much. Without these basic questions answered there is no way to fully understand the problem in order to make informed decisions needed to deliver better operational, environmental and financial outcomes for your business.

BioHiTech’s cloud platform serves up real-time food waste data collected from our on-site technology solution, the Eco-Safe Digester, quantifying food waste in a fashion that has historically not been available. Our platform invites customers to observe the food waste generation habits of their employees and the overall process to uncover who, what, why, when, where and how much waste is being created.

There is a good chance that your inefficient waste process does not answer any of the above key questions and that your problems fall into one or more of these buckets.

There are significant operational, environmental and financial payoffs when collecting, managing and analyzing food waste data. Without the detailed data it is easy to fall into the trap of addressing the wrong issue and missing out on an opportunity to prevent the waste all together.

New York City Announces Business Organics Rules

Beginning July 19, 2016, certain New York City businesses will be required by law to separate their organic waste. If your business meets the minimum requirements outlined below, you must comply with the business organics rules.

Establishments covered by Business Organics Rules

  • All food service establishments in hotels with 150 or more rooms
  • All food service vendors in arenas and stadiums with seating capacity of at least 15,000 people
  • Food manufacturers with a floor area of at least 25,000 square feet
  • Food wholesalers with a floor area of at least 20,000 square feet

Businesses covered by this proposal are given the option to arrange for collection by a private carter, transport organic waste themselves, or process the material on site. Suitable processing methods include composting and aerobic/anaerobic digestion. A food waste grinder is not permitted.

Business Resources: materials and trainings offered by DSNY.

Self-Transport: Businesses choosing to haul their own source-separated organics must register with the NYC Business Integrity Commission (BIC).

On-Site Processing: Businesses covered by these rules that choose to process organics on-site must register with DSNY within 30 days of installing on-site processing equipment.

NYC Commercial Organics Law

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Recology Intentionally Told Schools To Trash Millions Of Recyclable Trays And Then Blames The Kids

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Recology instructed San Francisco school officials to not recycle the recyclable plastic trays the district uses daily to serve students food. So reports the Chronicle, which details the jaw-dropping behavior by the city-contracted waste company that began in 2013 and may have only stopped when the paper began asking questions about the bizarre instructions given to school officials.

“Recology has told us they don’t want any plastics because they’re too soiled,” the principal at Commodore Sloat Elementary School, Greg John, told the paper. “It’s now institutionalized.” Of course, the trays are perfectly recyclable — covered in food or not. Food scraps mixed in with paper, however, lowers the resale value of the paper for the company, the Chronicle observes.

In response to what is clearly a PR nightmare for the company, spokesperson Robert Reed dug a little deeper and attempted to shift the blame to school children too “lazy” to rinse off the trays before disposing of them.

“If you were just lazy and tossed a plastic tray into the recycling that had spaghetti sauce on it, you would be diminishing the quality of the paper that’s getting ultimately recycled,” Reed told the paper.

Recology later attempted to backpedal.

“We accept all hard plastic food trays for recycling,” noted Reed. “We only ask that students who do not finish their meals shake any uneaten food into the green composting collection bins that we provide.”

So, it seems that Recology is more focused on protecting the resale value of the paper more than supporting that whole zero landfill waste by 2020 thing.

BY JACK MORSE IN NEWS ON FEB 22, 2016 3:30 PM

Is Recycling Worth Abandoning

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According to Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chari of the U.S. Green Building Council we need to be less reactionary to the issue and rethink the process.

 Rethinking Recycling: A Call to Action

We split the atom. We invented the light bulb. Heck, we not only sent a man to the moon, we brought him back again. Why, then, can we not get recycling right?

As the New York Times columnist and author John Tierney recently wrote, recycling is costly, complicated and inefficient, which prompts him to ask the sticky question: so why do we still do it?

We continue to recycle, and do so the world over, because the alternative would be too frightening to consider, not to mention self-destructive.

But why, decades after its broad acceptance, does recycling still cost as much as it does? Why does it remain so ridiculously inefficient? And why does it rely so utterly on human behavior and a society’s collective sense of social responsibility to actually work?

Because many parts of the process is broken and is going to need researchers, scientists, urban planners, environmentalists and concerned citizens everywhere to fix it.

We need to engage our scientific, technology, and environmental communities to deconstruct and re-imagine the entire process with a fresh mind and an entirely new set of eyes and stop focusing so much of our attention at the tail end of the consumer process and start looking hard at the front end.

As the earth’s resources remain threatened or as prices increase to dispose of these recyclables in a non-sustainable method, we can either choose to continue down the expected path or reimagine a better outcome.

The article in its entirety was posted on 11/16/2015 and can be found here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-fedrizzi/rethinking-recycling-a-ca_b_8574932.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202015-11-17%20Waste%20Dive%20Newsletter&utm_term=Waste%20Dive

 

 

Cities and counties come to grips with the high cost of recycling programs.

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Local governments have mailed out brochures. They’ve held live web chats. They’ve designed helpful magnets.

But D.C. metropolitan area residents — like recyclers across the country — are still tossing a whole lot of stuff into their recycling bins that shouldn’t be there. And it costs so much to sort that some cities and counties are losing money to recycle.

Now, some local officials are starting to acknowledge that it’s time to be smarter about recycling. That starts with being clearer with consumers about what should and shouldn’t go into the big blue bin.

In the past, “we had been telling people that, if they had any questions, when in doubt, put it into the recycling stream,” said Yon Lambert, the director of transportation and environmental services in Alexandria. “Now, we’re recognizing that making recycling work actually requires some recognition that it’s not as easy as we once communicated it to be.”

Not as easy — and not as lucrative.

Once a profitable business for cities and private employers, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise. The District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest facilities in Elkridge, Md. — but it is still losing money. Almost every facility like it in the country is running in the red. Waste Management and other recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around.

One of the main culprits is a fluctuating global market for plastic and aluminum that local authorities can do little to control. But another is the cost of sorting a multitude of materials that often arrive in a single truck, is highly contaminated driving down the value of the recyclable good because there is too much other stuff mashed up with it.

The realization that more isn’t always best has prompted some debate about whether the big blue bins and “single stream” systems employed throughout the country are really all they’re cracked up to be.

One bin for all materials makes it easier for people to recycle, but it can also make the process more costly.

Several years ago, in the interest of encouraging more recycling, the District followed a pattern set by other cities across the United States and switched from dual stream to single stream.

“You get more recycled product than you do with a dual stream,” said Tommy Wells, director of the D.C. Department of the Environment. “But the downside is that you get waste that can’t be recycled, and it’s more than you bargained for.”

Now it appears less certain that the big blue bin is the easiest option or the way to go.

When recycling bins were filling up because residents were tossing so much in them, the city simply doubled their size. Fines for placing recyclables in the trash also prompted private companies to err on the side of recycling.

The District’s Department of Public Works says it has worked to educate residents on what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable for the city’s recycling bins.

The Public Works Web site lists glass, plastic lawn furniture and dozens of other objects, big and small, as items that should go in the recycling bin. The only things the District officially says cannot go in the recycling bin are plastic foam and pizza boxes.

Recycling over the past year has cost the District more than a million dollars, after making a profit in 2011, in large part because the quality of recycled product has gone down because of contamination.

“If the blue bin becomes nothing but a trash bin, then we’re missing the point and missing an opportunity,” said D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who sits on the council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

“If our current recycling system isn’t working as well as it should, then we need to explore what changes we’re comfortable asking residents to make, and what changes in collections we can reasonably expect the agency to take on,” he said.

In some of the District’s neighboring counties, officials are feeling similar pressures.

Fairfax County, which netted an average $16 per ton of recyclables in 2011, and paid an average $38 per ton this year, is now weighing the real benefit of a single-stream system.

The cities of Alexandria and Arlington have also started sending out e-mails and brochures about smarter recycling practices.

And in Prince George’s County, where contamination has also sent prices climbing the county has decided that it will no longer accept plastic bags/film of any color, size or shape in its Recycling Program, starting on July 1.

Glass, too, has come under scrutiny. Every county and city recycling program in the region accepts it. And no sound evokes the arrival of the recycling truck quite like the crunching of shattering glass. Yet, officials now agree that it has little value to recyclers. When it breaks, they say, it just tends to end up in landfills.

As technology changes, cities have to look down the road and continue to evolve their policies to determine if it is still worth recycling glass. Glass is very heavy and really contaminates the other recycling material.

One bright spot on the map, might be Montgomery County, which still maintains a “dual-stream” system, and which, still churns out a profit.

The two-stream system makes for less contamination — better sales and less material diverted to landfills, and really isn’t much harder for residents than dealing with a single bin.

Though there are pitfalls in the economics of recycling, there is still value in diverting recyclables from landfills. Most advocates agree that governments do not institute recycling programs to save money, but instead to save energy and maintain the environment.

As John Tiemstra, professor of economics at Calvin College explains, “In economic terms, it’s very often a losing proposition but the thing is, human work does not have the same environmental consequences that exploiting virgin resources has. From a sustainability point of view, recycling has value.”

People have been preaching the importance of the three R’s (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle) for years now – and with good reason. There is truth in saying that recycling reduces pollution and the need for large CO2 producing-landfills, saves limited natural resources such as water, mineral, oil, and coal, and preserves energy by decreasing production numbers.

If we eliminated recycling programs completely 30 percent of solid waste that we recycle would be completely lost. That means that instead of re-using old materials, we have to produce more virgin products from natural resources, a practice that is neither energy- nor cost-effective. For example, recycling an aluminum can saves 95% of the energy required to otherwise produce it from raw materials.

In addition to the environmental rewards, there are also significant social benefits produced through recycling. Aside from bestowing a moral responsibility onto the public, recycling also promotes job growth. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance,

According to the EPA, every 10,000 tons of solid waste hauled into a landfill creates 1 job. Every 10,000 tons of recycled material, however, can result in 10 recycling jobs or 75 material reuse jobs. If the United States could amp up its recycling rate to 75%, it would create nearly 2.3 million jobs across the nation. Therefore, while recycling may not be the most cost-effective program for cities, it helps provide stable, green jobs for the millions of unemployed persons in the U.S.

Thus, cost is not the only factor in cities’ decisions to institute recycling programs. The question will always stand: for whose best interest do we recycle?