How on-site digesters help divert food waste from landfills

October 16, 2023

4 minutes, 39 seconds read

How on-site digesters help divert food waste from landfills

Food waste is a huge problem. It’s created by consumers and organizations across virtually every industry. Food scraps are left behind in agricultural operations, food production facilities, grocery stores, and all of the many organizations that serve food. Around the world, this food waste amounts to approximately 2.5 billion tonne each year, reports the World Wildlife Fund. At the farm stage, this food waste is roughly responsible for 2.2 gigatonne of CO2-equivalent emissions. 

The impact of food waste only increases when it is sent to landfills. While the emissions generated in transporting waste has its own impact, it’s the landfill decomposition process that is truly problematic. As waste piles up, or landfills are sealed, organic waste is left to decompose in an oxygen-free process. When oxygen isn’t available, the decomposition process emits byproducts that include methane. 

Methane, the second most abundant greenhouse gas, accounts for approximately 20% of global emissions. However, it packs a far more potent punch than carbon dioxide. Methane has a global warming potential that is 84 to 87 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The World Bank estimates that methane released by landfills accounts for approximately 11% of global methane emissions – but it’s expected to increase to as much as 70% by 2050 as populations grow.

Food waste is a huge problem, but organizations around the world are discovering that there are small steps they can take to reduce the amount of waste they send to the landfill, and their overall impact on climate change. Among the many solutions available to help, on-site biodigesters may be the easiest and most effective way to make a change. 

How on-site digesters help divert food waste

On-site biodigester are fully enclosed units that are installed in the food production or preparation area. Food scraps are placed in the unit along with microorganisms that break down organic material in a process much like the one that occurs in nature. Byproducts include grey water, which can be used for irrigation or disposed of down the drain. These units are always working, and are generally able to fully digest waste within 24 hours. 

While biodigesters are one of many options for diverting food waste from the landfill, they provide a number of unique advantages that make it easy to keep food waste out of landfills. 

  1. Biodigesters gather information that can be used for broader action to reduce food waste. 

Access to more data can drive more powerful action. That’s why LFC biodigesters come equipped with NFC cards that enable decision-makers to identify the type of food waste being broken down on an hourly basis. In fact, this information can be accessed by all stakeholders via online dashboards. Over time, stakeholders can use this data to identify trends and patterns that can inform decisions around purchasing and portion size. 

  1. On-site biodigesters require minimal change to ongoing operations. 

Small changes are easier to implement and maintain overtime. Because on-site biodigesters actually lessen the load on staff handling food waste, they help ensure sustainability initiatives last. It’s an easily implemented solution, compared to landfill diversions like composting, which require regular watering and turning to ensure the same oxygen-rich decomposition process that happens automatically in a biodigester. 

  1. On-site biodigesters can be used anywhere, by any organization that produces food. 

It’s easy to recognize the food waste produced by restaurants, where hundreds of meals may be served each day. Yet food waste is happening everywhere food is served: schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, and more. Today, biodigesters are being used on cruise ships and private yachts, in full compliance with all maritime regulations for waste disposal. Biodigesters with tailored security features can be found in correctional facilities. This equipment is even being used to reduce the carbon footprint of small-scale food waste producers, like craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. With a range of sizes available, biodigesters are effective solutions for organizations with any scale of food production. 

  1. There’s a proven return on this investment. 

The reason that biodigesters are becoming a solution of choice for more food production facilities may come back to the equipment’s reasonable ROI. Because the LFC biodigester reduces direct waste management costs, many organizations see a two-year payback period. However, biodigesters also have an impact on many indirect costs as well. The equipment reduces the time staff spends on hauling heavy waste, freeing employees to perform other activities. It also demonstrates an increasingly important commitment to sustainability that is proven to drive consumer’s purchasing decisions. 

Power Knot’s commitment to solving the food waste challenge

Since 2009, Power Knot has sought to deliver safe, economically sound, easy-to-use solutions to commercial, industrial, and military customers who want to make a positive impact on their environment. In that time, we’ve updated our equipment to better meet the diverse needs of the  organizations we serve. The LFC biodigester has evolved to provide a range of unit sizes to meet both large capacity and small-scale needs, just as Power Knot has grown to provide support to organizations in best utilizing equipment and data to create a lasting impact on food services. 

At Power Knot, we prioritize the use of reliable electronics manufactured in-house and ensuring an overall superior build quality. With the goal of reducing waste, we want to provide equipment proven to stand the test of time. We’ve also worked to make it as easy to purchase and install an on-site biodigester as it is to use it. To take that next step, contact Power Knot today.