How to budget for a food waste biodigester in the fiscal year

December 18, 2023

5 minutes, 12 seconds read

How to budget for a food waste biodigester in the fiscal year

In a world facing pressing environmental challenges, tackling food waste has become a paramount concern. The United Nations estimates that approximately one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted globally each year. Addressing this issue is not just a moral imperative but also a necessity for sustainable living.

Food waste biodigesters are innovative solutions that not only reduce the environmental impact of food waste but also present economic advantages. These systems convert organic waste into water, providing an on-site, sustainable alternative to traditional disposal methods.

This blog aims to serve as a comprehensive guide for organizations looking to implement food waste biodigesters in the fiscal year. By understanding the process, assessing needs, researching options, and creating a budget, organizations can pave the way for a more sustainable and cost-effective future.

Step 1: Assess your organization’s needs

Assessing organizational needs is a critical first step in the successful implementation of a food waste biodigester. It involves a thorough examination of your current practices for the disposal of food waste, considering factors such as waste volume, composition, and associated costs. 

By understanding the organization’s existing waste management framework, decision-makers can pinpoint areas for improvement and gauge the potential impact of biodigester integration. Additionally, analyzing available space and infrastructure for biodigester installation is crucial to ensure seamless integration without disrupting daily operations.

Consider the following:

  • How are you currently handling your food waste?
  • What are the costs of labor associated with the current method?
  • What is the quantity food waste is being generated per day?
  • How much of your waste management cost is directly correlated to food?
  • Are you using plastic bags to store and move food waste?
  • What types of food waste is your organization commonly seeing?
  • What are the costs associated with pick-up, weight, and transport?

Step 2: Researching biodigester options

Once you understand the pain points affecting your facility, then you should research the best biodigester for your business. 

  • What size biodigester do you need?
  • What type of medium do you plan on using in your machine?
  • Would it make sense to get multiple units or fewer but larger sized biodigester units for your facility?

Power Knot offers a range of biodigesters that encompass a nominal capacity of 25 kg to 6000 kg of food waste per day. Each facility has unique needs for food digestion; smaller offices can use LFC-25 biodigester but university dining halls may need an LFC-300 biodigester. 

Depending on the scale of your operations, you may choose between multiple smaller units or fewer, larger-sized biodigester units. This decision should align with your organization’s waste generation patterns and available space for installation.

Step 3: Creating a budget

Costs for the solution will ultimately depend on the needs of your facility. Consider the following:

  • Would it be more cost effective to have a single biodigester or multiple biodigesters in your facility? 
  • Are there benefits outside of monetary ones?

A food waste biodigester may require an upfront investment for many companies, while others may lease or rent a machine. For a cash purchase, it is important to factor in the return on investment (ROI). Once you consider the cost savings from reduced waste disposal fees and internal costs, the ROI can typically be less that two years.

If you rent or lease the LFC biodigester, the monthly payments are typically less than the cost savings thereby resulting in cost savings from the minute the machine is installed. If using an NTEP certified biodigester like the LFC, the certified numbers of the weight of waste ingested can provide reliable data for reporting in SEC and sustainability reports.

Step 4: Funding Opportunities

Before finalizing your budget, explore potential funding opportunities to offset the costs of implementing a food waste biodigester. Consider the following avenues:

  • Researching grants and subsidies: Various government agencies, non-profit organizations, and environmental foundations offer grants and subsidies to encourage sustainable practices.
  • Exploring partnerships: Collaborate with government agencies or environmental organizations that may have an interest in promoting sustainable waste management practices.
  • Internal budget reallocation: Evaluate your organization’s existing budget and identify areas where reallocation might be possible to fund the biodigester project. Highlight the long-term cost savings and environmental benefits to gain internal support for budget adjustments.

Step 5: Implementation Timeline

As you move forward, carefully plan the timeline for biodigester installation:

  • When is a good time to implement the new solution?
  • Do you have buy-in from coworkers?

Consider starting the program during a period when your business is either booming or experiencing a slowdown, depending on your industry. Implementing the biodigester during a busy season may showcase its efficiency, while a slower period can allow for smoother integration without disrupting regular operations. 

Secure support and enthusiasm for the biodigester initiative within your organization. Emphasize the positive impact on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Communicate the benefits to employees and stakeholders to foster a culture of responsible waste management.

Step 6: Monitoring and Evaluation

To ensure the success of your food waste biodigester program, establish a robust monitoring and evaluation framework:

  • Are you continually measuring KPIs of your program?
  • Does your budget have wiggle room?

Key performance indicators (KPIs): Define specific KPIs to measure the biodigester’s performance, such as the amount of food waste processed, CO2e diverted from the atmosphere, and cost savings. Use continuous data analytic programs such as the LFC Cloud to regularly monitor these indicators to assess the effectiveness of the biodigester and make data-driven decisions.

Be prepared to make adjustments to the budget based on monitoring results. If certain aspects of the biodigester operation prove more or less costly than anticipated, modify the budget accordingly. Flexibility is key to optimizing the financial and environmental benefits of the biodigester.

In conclusion, budgeting for a food waste biodigester is a strategic investment that aligns environmental responsibility with economic efficiency. By carefully assessing organizational needs, researching biodigester options, creating a comprehensive budget, exploring funding opportunities, planning the implementation timeline, and implementing robust monitoring and evaluation, organizations can take significant steps toward a sustainable and cost-effective future.

Encourage your organization to embrace responsible waste management practices, not only for the immediate benefits but also for the long-term positive impact on the environment and the community. Take action today, and contribute to a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.