Despite NYC’s numerous efforts to curb its massive food waste issues, there is still a lot of work to be done in reducing the amount of organic waste clogging up local landfills. One enterprising startup says they may be able to divert food scraps from landfills altogether by using the age-old process of fermentation. Brooklyn-based Industrial Organic thinks their new process based on the principles of Japanese bokashi composting, which ferments organic matter in an acidic environment in a process much like beer or wine production, could revolutionize way the city handles its food waste.



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The problems with composting food waste on a large scale level are two-fold: the need for composting space and the accompanying stench that comes along with rotting food. Industrial Organics founders Amanda Prinzo and Brett Van Aalsburg have created a new composting system that avoids both issues by storing food scraps in brewery-like tanks rather than open-air landfills.

Related: NYC Food Waste Challenge Announces 2,500 Tons of Trash Diverted from Landfills

Their process involves sending food through an accelerated fermentation process for 24 hours before being stored in a large tank for another three days. The end product would consist of biomass pellets that can be used for soil enrichment or as feedstock for bioplastics. This closed storage fermentation process would only require enough space for the tanks, eliminating the need for landfills.

According to Prinzo, the system can also process a ton of food waste per day. “The one-ton machine we’re building now is very similar to a type of machine that you’d see in winemaking,” Prinzo explained in an interview with Take Part, “except we’re using it to ferment something else.”

With such a dense population, NYC has a vested interest in reducing their waste. In 2013, Mayor de Blasio announced the “Zero Waste Challenge”, which included more than 100 restaurants agreeing to cut the amount of food waste they send to landfills in half in order to help the city’s goal of reducing its waste output by 90 percent by 2030. However, although local composting initiatives do see some success, traditional composting systems are always going to require a lot of operating space and, of course, nobody wants to live near a open composting site.

The Industrial Organic team is now building their second pilot space in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

+ Industrial Organic

Via Take Part

Lead image via Wikimedia Commons