Agriculture benefits from Supermarket Waste
A few interesting facts about Food Production, Demand and Wastage
- 50% of 2.2 billion tons of food produced (globally) each year is wasted every year, which exceeds the global demand for food.
- According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization, the soil can only support 60 more years of harvests.
- 40% of food produced in the US - 70 billion pounds of food - goes to waste, which far exceeds food neeed by the 49 million American people that struggle with hunger each year. A quarter of this (10%) is contributed by waste from Supermarket Grocers.
California Safe Soil (CSS) technology is headed to the East Coast in a big way with the goal of ending supermarket fresh food waste in the United States in five years.
CSS Proprietary Processing Technology
The CSS aerobic, enzymatic digestion technology that gives a final product of liquid fertiliser - Harvest-to-Harvest™, is different from existing organic composting techniques and alternative digestive processes. CSS’s digestive process, which takes a mere three hours, is many times more efficient than composting which typically takes 3 months to complete. By not letting the food rot, it is possible to harness the full capabilities and benefits of the unsold food and drastically reduce the potential risks of pathogens while maintaining significant benefits to soil organisms. The process involves mechanical grinding, heating, and enzymatically digesting the food. E. coli, salmonella and listeria are introduced into the food waste for the digestion process. The resulting liquid is then pasteurized, screened, stabilized, and homogenized to a average particle size of 26 microns (74 micron max particle size). Harvest-to-Harvest™ is registered pathogen free and safe to use on all crops. It is blended to make each application consistent, and to produce scientifically repeatable results.
One of its investors — Board member Justin Kamine of KDC Agriculture, a subsidiary of Kamine Development — is licensing the tech to build a plant somewhere in the New York City tristate area. In addition to the Kamine family, Howard Buffet and former USDA Secretary Anne Veneman are on KDC Ag’s advisory board. The $40 million East Coast plant will be roughly double the size of CSS’s West Sacramento facility, taking in 60,000 tons of fresh food waste per year generating 12 million gallons of fertilizer and 12 million pounds of animal feed.
For the past four years, CSS has been operating a pilot scale plant in West Sacramento,CA based on its patented technology - recycling food from Safeway, Nugget, Whole Foods and Save Mart. The plant has a design capacity to recycle up to 32,000 tons of organics per year. It is expected that the plant will produce enough H2H for 128,000 acres of sustainable local California agriculture, in addition to creating 3,200 tons of feed for sustainably raised local California livestock, while reducing annual Greenhouse Gas emissions by 74,000 MTCO2 (equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road). Eighty percent of supermarket waste is culled produce, with the remainder made up mostly of meat and fish scraps. CSS provides insulated bins on wheels for the stores to fill and return to their distribution centers where the waste is then brought to the CSS facility within one day. Besides H2H, CSS also produces animal feed product, that possible eliminates the need for corn, soy and antibiotics.
With very little of the odor typical of a waste processing facility, the West Sacramento facility blends into a regular business park.
Dan Morash, CEO of CSS says, "Our fee is lower than municipal collection rates for food waste and 10-year contracts allow him to offer the resultant fertilizer at a fixed price. " He had to prove the safety of his process to regulators in California in a lab setting simulating the CSS process. “CDFA has a lot of food safety concerns about technologies like anaerobic digestion and composting. Most don’t have the pathogen-kill step that our process does,” says Morash, who adds that if his technology received regulatory approval in California, he expects no trouble elsewhere.
Morash and Kamine describe the CSS technology as city infrastructure, not unlike a utility — something the Kamine family has experience with. “For the past 30 years our family has been developing large scale infrastructure across the US,” says Kamine, whose family business has built out infrastructure for telecom, natural gas, and solar. Now Kamine’s goal is to reclaim all of the US supermarket fresh food waste in the next five years. Not only are CSS and KDC making a play to divert food waste from land fills and incinerators, they are also hoping that farmers will come around to the fact that soil health is a worthy investment.
“Our challenge is convincing farmers that soil health can provide good return on investment,” said Morash. “It just takes time for farmers to adopt new technology and there’s always a healthy level of skepticism that this is snake oil.”
Kamine will be building out the East Coast facility and holds a license for national development and commercialization of CSS’s process and products. CSS has raised $17 million in total since founding including a $5.9 million round initiated on the AgFunder platform in 2015. Kamine Development has also invested in New Jersey-based indoor farming company (AeroFarms) and sustainable packaging and tableware company Loliware, among others.