Tag Archives: Eco-Safe Digester

It’s All About The Data

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In the waste industry, a key criticism is the lack of data or, where data does exist, a lack of accurate information. For example, almost all operations have no idea how much waste they have, what kind of waste it is, how to prevent the waste, and where the waste goes.

In recent years the conversation regarding the need and importance of data has evolved tremendously. About five years ago responses were mixed, with some expressing how important data was, while others indicated they had a hard time seeing how the additional information might benefit their operations.

In contrast, today it is rare to come across someone who isn’t interested in or doesn’t see the value that good data can bring to their operation.

The data, however, continues to be hard to get a hold of but if you are one of the lucky ones, the data you are receiving can vary from asset management to tracking utilization to understanding how many pounds are being managed to determining waste composition. The list goes on. The point is that there is a strong push to acquire data and exploit the knowledge gained to evaluate everything from internal efficiencies to potential competition.

There was always some interest in this before, but what seems to have qualitatively changed is that there is now the ability to easily acquire accurate data from none other than the Eco-Safe Digester. This on-site technology that was originally manufactured to eliminate food waste has been collecting waste data via the cloud for more than two years. Eco-Safe Digester customers are receiving data in ways they’ve never seen before.

The level of data continues to grow from once only seeing the pounds diverted and dollars saved from the traditional and compost costs to now understanding what’s happening internally in each department, by each employee and from one location to the other. The information acquired now allows a company to understand its place in the world, evaluate trends, and save more money.

As data acquisition and availability increases, operations will be able to incorporate this corporate-specific data in their operations, forecasting and business development activities.

Additionally, Ec0-Safe Digester customers as well as the public and potential investors are looking to this data to gauge what is happening with the waste that is generated and how users adjust their behavior to prevent it altogether.

Because the data is accurately measured on-site and streamed simultaneously to a secure platform its credibility is not an issue. BioHitech America represents that the data is not skewed or flawed in any way as decisions are made based on this information.

The importance of accurate data is critical as it can spell the success or failure of any sustainability project, something BioHitech America takes very seriously.

Portions of this story was previously published on May 4, 2015 in Waste 360 and written by Bryan Staley. Bryan Staley, P.E., is president of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, a non-profit research organization that represents the entire industry and has been working to aggregate credible and reliable industry-wide data.

A New Waste Hierarchy

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In 1989 the EPA issued an Agenda for Action that first included the idea of an Integrated Waste Management Hierarchy, which took on many variations before reaching the common one today.

The EPA’s basic idea was to attempt to suggest–but not mandate–that, even though landfilling was most common in the marketplace because it appeared cheapest, other options to handle discarded materials were preferable. These included source reduction, recycling, and even waste-to-energy.

Most recently, Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), a global zero waste organization has upended traditional concepts about the Integrated Waste Management Hierarchy taking that thought further to fully reflect today’s principles of sustainability.

And now with state and city policies mandating the diversion of recyclable materials from landfill coupled with the technological advances the waste industry is seeing to not only eliminate the waste more efficiently but to capture the data about the composition of that discarded waste, the hierarchy will likely need to be refreshed often.

NYC’s Commercial Waste Management System Is Garbage

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New York City’s commercial waste-management system is more broken than anyone realized, according to a report released by Transform Don’t Trash NYC.

The coalition found that New York City businesses produce 5.5 million tons of waste per year—two million more tons than the most recent official estimate. Of those 5.5 million tons, 4 million are “disposed”, sent to the landfill or incinerated, rather than recycled. And while Bloomberg’s 2011 PLaNYC report set the city’s recycling rate by offices, restaurants, stores, hotels, and hospitals at a less-than-great 40%, TDTNYC estimates that the actual percentage is closer to 24%.

If not worse, annual reports foiled with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation show that last year, two of the biggest private waste haulers in the city recycled just 9% and 13% of their waste, respectively.

TDTNYC obtained these troubling new statistics from a study of commercial waste management in New York City, conducted back in 2012 by Halcrow Engineers, and commissioned by the DSNY.

According to the report thousands of private waste-collecting trucks overlap routes in NYC: in 2012, at least 25 independent trash haulers worked each neighborhood, and a whopping 79 just in Midtown. As a result, the city was faced with unnecessary “pollution, noise, congestion and hazards of excessive truck traffic.”

Setting the 2012 study aside, TDTNYC supplemented these findings with a 2014 survey of 580 businesses across the five boroughs.

Their survey revealed individual blocks in several neighborhoods where collection trucks from 8-10 different hauling companies serviced businesses, and one multi-block commercial strip serviced by 22 different hauling companies. The constant struggle to gain and retain customers leads haulers to operate inefficient routes.

For example, a typical team of two workers operating a truck might collect waste from 70 different restaurants in one night. While a dense customer base would allow these workers to fill their trucks from restaurants in a single neighborhood, in NYC’s open system these workers are likely to drive across multiple neighborhoods and even boroughs to collect the same amount of waste from the same number of restaurants.

“When you’re out there at night, you can be on any particular street and see ten different companies at the same time picking up for different customers. You have haulers coming up all the way from Brooklyn or Queens to the Bronx or Manhattan to collect, and then going all the way back to drop garbage. If you have companies in the Bronx, why does someone from Staten Island have to come to the Bronx to pick up trash,” commented Plinion Cruz, Sanitation Truck Driver for Progressive Waste Solutions.

Cruz has also witnessed considerable shortcomings in the industry when it comes to separating out recycling:

“There are some places where you see that the customer did the diligence and separated the cans in one bag and the cardboard piled separately, and then the solid waste in black bags. The customer takes the time to separate the recyclables, but then the sanitation driver is told to put everything in one truck. So whatever the customer did didn’t serve any purpose because everything is going to be mixed together and when you get to the transfer station, the truck dumps everything and a loader scoops it up to go to a landfill or an incinerator.”

A zoning system confining private waste management companies to geographic areas would at address the traffic issues and cut back on unnecessary gas guzzling but it still does not solve the problem. Businesses are creating too much waste and need the right tools to reduce the volume before finding a more efficient way of disposing of it.

The story was first published on April 20, 2015 here:
http://gothamist.com/2015/04/20/nyc_trashed.php

 

This Waste-Transfer Station Plan is Garbage

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In a section of the job-hungry South Bronx zoned for heavy manufacturing sits a trash-transfer station. At the state-of-the-art facility, which like all such stations is enclosed to minimize odors, optical-sorting equipment and workers pull recyclable material from regular garbage so as little waste as possible ends up in landfills. Its 120 employees are paid well above minimum wage and earn promotions if they perform well. Some hail from a program that steers defendants from the criminal-justice system into productive employment.

In short, the transfer station is located exactly where it’s supposed to be, hires the people who need jobs the most, pays well and helps the environment.

Now get this: At least 20 City Council members want to cut the plant off at its knees.

In the name of environmental justice, they are sponsoring a bill to hamstring transfer stations like the one in the Bronx, which could have its waste-processing capacity reduced by 50%. The result would be more trucks carrying trash across the city for longer distances and spending more time on local streets, rather than highways.

Bronx plant owner Action Environmental Services, for its part, would be stuck with an underused $15 million optical sorter. And the Bronx, which has by far the highest unemployment and the lowest median income in the city, could see dozens of the facility’s quality jobs disappear.

The council is right to be concerned about the concentration of trucks in certain parts of the city. But this bill, known as Intro. 495, would do more harm than good. It would compel many stations to handle less waste, yet would do nothing to reduce it. With the city’s waste stream growing by 4% to 5% every year, the consequence would be more waste processing in neighborhoods and at facilities less suited for it. It’s not even certain that waste-industry businesses would add the needed transfer-station capacity or build the composting facilities the council wants, given the chilling message that Intro. 495 would send by undermining their previous investments.

This is the kind of legislation that lets politicians don a halo of environmental justice without helping the environment or doing justice. The bill purports to limit garbage trucks but will merely divert them to longer and less efficient routes. It increases disposal costs and pollution. And it pits communities against each other.

The de Blasio administration, to its credit, opposes this counterproductive bill. Its council sponsors would do well to dump it in the recycling bin. The bill they should start focusing on, which is up for a vote in July, is Local Law 146 requiring the city’s largest food waste generators to separate food waste ensuring it does not go to landfill. Suitable on-site disposal solutions offer the promise of eliminated garbage trucks removed from the city’s congested roads and perhaps eliminate the need to build composting facilities altogether. An on-site solution like The Eco-Safe Digester, manufactured and sold by New York-based BioHitech America offers customers an opportunity to become more aware of what is being disposed so that efforts can be made to reduce it entirely. That is the kind of change needed in a city looking for considerable environmental and monetary wins for their garbage and their communities.

A version of this article appeared in the March 6, 2015, online issue of Crain’s New York Business

 

 

Remote Monitoring as a Value Add

 

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Imagine having a problem with a piece of commercial kitchen equipment and have it fixed before even knowing there was a problem. Though it seems implausible, staying connected to a product wherever it is located is now possible thanks to remote monitoring.

Global suppliers such as General Electric and Emerson Electric Co are selling remote monitoring services to help manufacturers fix or prevent mechanical problems increasing their productivity while cloud computing is storing and analyzing vast amounts of data from those machines to predict trends. These combined efforts cut down the need for costly hands-on service calls and turns every day into a profitable and efficient day.

Monitoring performance, analyzing data and troubleshooting any problems, even before the customer knows the machine is having a problem, is an extraordinary level of service. A service BioHitech America offers with every Eco-Safe Digester.

BioHitech America’s remote monitoring feature offers an enhanced level of insight that can truly improve the performance of the machine. Data can be monitored and made available for analysis through cellular or Wi-Fi networks.

In the past, monitoring a machine required specialized men and women to travel to a location to perform a routine inspection of that machine. Now, automation takes over the task and eliminates a considerable amount of travel time, expenses and fuel.

Service is not the only value-add, big data, streaming from the Eco-Safe Digester to your tablet or computer is priceless. Increased efficiency and productivity, improving customer satisfaction, and measuring carbon footprint performance, increases profitability.

This technological baby-sitter represents an entirely new way to keep businesses running smoothly. Anytime, Anywhere Access.

How Cloud Technology and Data is Transforming a Company and Redefining an Industry

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By Bill Kratzer, CTO of BioHitech America…

Frank E. Celli is not your typical technology CEO. Frank, a lifelong waste industry veteran once responsible for all aspects of the business including collection, recycling, and landfills saw an opportunity to leverage his knowledge and transform the organic waste industry.

His due diligence led him to the Eco-Safe Digester, a large stainless steel machine that promised to eat large volumes of organic waste in very little time.   Originally, the machine seemed ideal for applications that created large amounts of food waste daily, such as grocery stores and cafeterias. The digester uses oxygen and organic microorganisms to literally digest organic waste.   Because the machine is installed at the point of generation of the waste it eliminates the need to haul the waste away and diverts it from its traditional resting place, the landfill. The only by-product is nutrient-neutral water that can be safely flushed down the sewer drain.

Over the last eight years, the digester has been refined, improved upon and firmly entrenched in a variety of markets across the United States and overseas. Small and large generators of food waste are now using the technology not only to improve their carbon footprint but also to save money. “The digester has afforded our customers with a more efficient, less complicated and financially viable waste disposal solution,” states Frank E. Celli. “As diversion goals are developed and more laws and regulations are passed, the Eco-Safe Digester will become an even more attractive piece to the sustainability puzzle.”

The digester’s story, however, changed in 2013 when a mutual business acquaintance introduced Frank to Bob Joyce.   Bob, at that time, was the president of a Pennsylvania-based company that specialized in data center hardware, operations, and software development.   The two quickly saw an opportunity to integrate their two worlds, one firmly entrenched in food, waste, and industrial equipment and the other involved in servers, storage, networking, and data. Utilizing technology to collect waste data from the source has the potential to reshape the waste process entirely.

The fact that BioHitech America had no existing computing infrastructure was not a problem. Like many new technology start-ups, the company was instantly able to spin-up a virtual data center, using nothing more than a corporate credit card.   Within hours, the company went from having no data center footprint to having nearly 20 virtual machines running in multiple regions in the United States.

The transition was fast and dramatic.   The company quickly transformed itself from selling an alternative waste disposal machine to selling a preventative waste disposal solution. The solution welcomed the addition of Big Data and the Internet of Things providing customers with a tool to do more than dispose of the waste it more importantly teaches them how to prevent it.

Customers can now harness the data from the cloud to track and monitor utilization, report on cost savings, and benchmark diversion goals. A food waste prevention solution that tracks progress and measures impact is good for businesses, communities and the environment.

By the end of 2014, the company had captured billions of pieces of data about the machines and provided its customers with detailed reports to help them prevent food waste before it starts.

Unraveling the mountain of data also highlighted an interesting trend: variations in utilization of the digester often correlated to management problems.   “Data has a unique way of uncovering management problems inside an organization.   If an employee is not using a piece of technology appropriately, there are likely other instances the employee is not doing other things appropriately” says Celli.

The digester once considered a “back of the house” solution is now getting the attention of the front office. BioHitech’s conversations used to be limited to the person in charge of waste.   Now we are talking to the CEO, COO, or CMO.

“Culturally, we needed to think ‘Cloud’ in everything we do, and not just our own product.   As a modern technology company, we had to introduce the value of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service in everything we do.” says Bill Kratzer, Chief Technology Officer. “Our cloud direction was such a fundamental focus for us. I needed everyone in the company to ‘get it’.   We went all in,” says Celli.

Frank placed a bet, and moved his own company into the modern 21st century.   Now he’s betting that by combining two unlikely industries he can force change within an industry that is in need of change.

Reducing your Emissions with a Low-Carbon Investment

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The proper management of food waste is actually a low hanging fruit for investors and society as a whole. It is not just more efficient to track down and manage food waste where it is actually generated; it is also of paramount importance to reduce pollution caused by improper waste management and its subsequent transportation.

But it is also not just the act or cost of transportation or the overall level of pollution associated with food waste disposal that has become a concern, it is the staggering fact that we have little information available and even less understanding of how the impact of food waste affects our society.

A green smart technology solution that helps control and prevent waste can be most effective and prove to be a good investment.

The Eco-Safe Digester offers companies an opportunity to reduce operational costs, become more sustainably resilient, and build brand value with stakeholders.

In the US alone, food eats up 10 per cent of the total energy budget, uses 50% of the available US land and absorbs 80% of the fresh water consumed in the US: yet, about 40% of all the food never gets eaten and goes from the shelves to waste. In terms of value, we can estimate that at about 900 billion US dollars of food going to waste on a yearly basis, a value which is only growing bigger by the day (National Resource Defense Council, 2012).

The 40% of food that never gets to be consumed and goes directly to the dumpster creates even more issues in terms of data monitoring and costs control.

The Eco-Safe Digester solution offers a clear roadmap in terms of proper food waste management so companies can see the impacts to their bottom line and have access to real waste data so they can start to understand how to reduce the amount of food wasted. This should make investors feel more comfortable in making investments in the green technology market.

From an investors’ point of view, tackling food waste represents one of the few opportunities left to re-ignite a new wave of legitimate value creation.