Food waste is a growing problem in the UK. According to WRAP, Britain generates about 11.8 million tonnes a year, 60% of which is avoidable.
The sheer scale of the issue can seem overwhelming. But a new technology has been developed that can help businesses to cut costs, increase turnover and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.
Launched in the UK by Bio- HiTech, on-site food waste digesters combine aerobic digestion (AD) with internet of things (IoT) technology to deliver a sustainable, safe and legal way to dispose of food waste, while offering analytics to help businesses optimise their operations.
AD utilises micro-organisms which, when supplied with oxygen, convert food waste into liquid effluent. This can then be safely and legally disposed of down a standard drain.
The equipment has been introduced by hotel groups including Hilton and shopping centre groups Intu, Hammerson, LandSec and Westfield.
Waste collections play a vital role in the management of any business, particularly food industries, but they are often costly and contribute to air pollution.
But businesses that have in-stalled BioHiTech’s Eco-Safe and Revolution Series units – including hotel chains, care homes, restaurants and shopping centres – have reduced general waste by up to 80%, which enables storage skips and compactors to be reclassified as dry mixed recycling.
This cuts costs by around 35% and can halve collection frequencies, allowing firms to remove the high cost of standard waste collections, including landfill tax.
Not only do food digesters reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, but they can also help businesses to make money.
Removing food waste from the refuse chain at source means recyclables that are not contaminated by leftovers are more valuable and can be sold at a higher price. On-site waste digesters ensure food scraps never enter the refuse chain, ensuring the recyclable value is maximised.
In today’s competitive market, the catering sector is always looking for new ways to become more efficient and reduce wasted resources. Utilising cloud-based IoT technology, digesters such as Eco-Safe units provide accurate real-time waste data analytics, such as weight and frequency, to enable users to monitor and optimise operations in areas such as purchasing.
All businesses know the importance of maintaining responsible health and safety and hygienic practices. An infestation of vermin or an accident due to a slip on a wet floor can be extremely damaging both financially and to reputation. Pests such as flies and rats thrive on food scraps in storage bins. But by installing food waste digesters, vermin are left with nothing to eat so they vacate the premises. And removing food waste from kitchens as soon as possible via digesters reduces potential hazards from split bags.
Food introduces a number of other aspects that can have a detrimental impact on customers. Arguably the worst offenders are lingering food odours from the kitchen, which can not only affect customers but also distract employees and reduce productivity.
AD is an ideal way to eradicate nasty smells because it breaks down leftovers on contact and smells are kept inside the units.
Every company wants to be more appealing to its customers, but getting ahead of the competition can be challenging. Companies that demonstrate high levels of corporate and social responsibility are far more appealing to new business.
Food waste digesters have helped hundreds of firms across the world achieve globally recognised sustainability awards such as BREEAM, which requires energy efficiency and low-carbon technology to be installed as standard. And to meet the new Government sustainability targets, many new-build or refurbishment projects specify digesters at the design stage.
BioHiTech digesters are one example of a disruptive solution that offers a wealth of financial, reputational and environmental benefits to businesses looking to become more sustainable and socially responsible in both the short and long-term.
Frank E Celli is chief executive of BioHiTech
Game on for digesters in the NFL
BioHiTech’s US parent company scored a goal this summer when the Philadelphia Eagles American NFL football team announced plans to install one of its on-site digesters. Existing service provider Waste Masters Solutions is assisting in the design, construction and operation of the project.
The technology was seen by the Eagles as a way to help manage larger spikes in volume on game days and for concerts. It followed the installation of another digester at the team’s practice facility in September 2016. In less than a year that unit diverted more than eight tonnes of pre-consumer food waste.
Stadiums have become popular targets for food waste diversion, either voluntarily or due to regulatory requirements, because of their large footprints and relatively predictable waste streams.