Waste management is changing, and this is why businesses should care

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-emitting trucks, driven miles away to a transfer station, dumped, pushed and re-loaded to a second diesel-emitting truck to then drive many more miles before it’s eventually buried in a landfill.

I spent 25 years in traditional waste management where I ran seven 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 little as 20% 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 resource recovery facility currently being constructed in the United States, that combines a sorting facility with a proprietary mechanical biological treatment (“MBT”) system to process mixed waste streams and turn biodegradable materials into energy. Like our digesters, the process uses microorganisms, but by removing oxygen from the process, turns 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.

Organic waste accounts for as much as one-third of the refuse hauled away from businesses. The costs for these technologies could eliminate the need for 80% of traditional hauling processes and manufacture a renewable energy source. The on-site digester eliminates up to 2,500 pounds of food waste per day safety and simply.

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 foot waste certainly makes good financial sense, and when it comes to protecting our environment, it’s a no-brainer for all of us.

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