Can you imagine a city as big as New York eliminating all food waste—every bit of its million-plus tons of food scraps, rotten fruits and vegetables, and more —in the next 16 years? If Industrial/Organic, a NY-based recycling facility designed to process organic waste with low odor and emissions, has any say, this food waste solution dream will become reality.
The problem with food waste
Large-scale food waste solutions aren’t new, but often times they fail for mundane, very real reasons. A large, East Coast composting facility was shut down in 2014 because it produced an overpowering stench. And although compost can be used to make biogas, that gas can also create pollution.
But now, it seems like Industrial/Organic has created a process that can get rid of food waste indoors, without upsetting the community with unpleasant odors.
Amanda Prinzo, the company’s founder, first got interested in composting when she started volunteering at NYC’s city compost program. During Prinzo’s volunteering stint, she discovered that the city had been trying to develop a composting program for years. The catch was, though, the city couldn’t find a place that could handle all of its waste.
Prinzo created a fermentation system that can quickly process waste in a week by pickling—basically preserving—the food and creating a nearly odorless fertilizer. Industrial/Organic’s facility is clean-running, too.
“The process produces biomass pellets that can be used as fertilizer and wastewater that could be cleaned and reused,” FastCoExist reports. “It’s a method that has already been used on a small scale by some community gardens and homesteaders. The business model, like other recycling facilities, is an alternative to a landfill. Haulers will pay a tipping fee. Once the model is working in New York, the startup plans to start expanding to other cities.”
“It’s laid out sort of like a brewery, so we can pop up in a warehouse,” Prinzo explains. “We don’t have to build a plant from the ground.”
While the company is in test-mode—it has set up shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn—Prinzo plans on opening its first facility in Newburgh with the help of Brett Van Aalsburghas who has a background in mental fabrication, industrial design, and science education.
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Image of compost via Shutterstock