Preserving the Environment

This Machine Fights Food Waste

January 30, 2014
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This Machine Fights Food Waste
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How a Washington grocery store turns smelly, expired food into fertilizer for farms.

America has a gigantic food waste problem. The EPA estimates that every year, we throw out 36 million tons of grub. That’s not just wasteful, it’s harmful to the environment as well. Food waste from landfills converts into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But a Washington state supermarket is trying to do its part to alleviate this problem by converting their leftover food into nutrient-rich fertilizers that return to farms.

The Bridle Trails Red Apple in Kirkland uses a nifty, patent-pending machine called the Harvester. Created by Redmond-based startup WISErg, the Harvester turns up to 4,000 pounds of food a day into mulch that goes to a processing plant where it’s converted into a registered, organic fertilizer. The fertilizer has reportedly shown promising results on Washington farms and can be used on home lawns.

The Harvester can solve many problems for grocery stores. Prior to using the machine, the Bridle Trails Red Apple merely tossed food that wasn’t eligible for food banks into the dumpster or compost. Not only did that create an unpleasant smell, it also resulted in expensive disposal fees. Now with the Harvester, there’s no odor, and as Huffington Post notes, the machine uses about the same amount of energy as a home refrigerator. WISErg told HuffPo there are currently three Harvesters in Seattle and there are talks to bring the machine to “several national brands.”

MORE: How Much Food Could Be Rescued if College Dining Halls Saved Their Leftovers?

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