BioSystems Design members Grant Canary, Ryan Mykita, and Juan Diego Giraldo got a hard hitting look at composting past, present, & future in the US. Amongst the scrooges and tiny tims were tireless government activists, private operators, machine vendors, and environmental policy advocates. Sitting down in an extremely over-air conditioned town and country resort in San Diego California, a few key facts fell into place:
- BioSystems Design can get paid to receive foodwastes, our primary target input as well as for producing larvae, our output. In the states, due to liability, supermarkets and food waste producers are not paid for their foodwastes because the potential liability they would risk for the possible transmission of disease from rotting foods is not worth the nominal fee they would receive. This is in direct contrast to Colombia. Colombian supermarkets and food waste producers (or their haulers) get paid for bad foods, which are fed primarily to pigs. In Colombia, this liability is not such a concern and expired foods are purchased and fed to livestock.
- The California composting permitting process strikes fear in the heart of all attendees. Thus, we must research our costs and timeline for permitting in california
- Oregon is following California and is this year adopting stricter composting requirements. This may put some composters out of business or in a mood to sell their operations. Regardless, CA versus OR permitting costs and timeline are definitely something to keep in mind as we proceed.
- BioSystems will not need to manage food waste hauling. Haulers are a completely separate and secretive species. Haulers don’t compete with composters and vice versa.
- Based on first hand testimony presented at the conference, restaurant chains are in some cases very difficult customers to conduct food waste collection programs with. This is due to high employee turnover and contamination of food waste bins. We additionally don’t posses the ability as the government does to compel participation by reducing waste fees. However, conflicting first hand testimony stated that some chains were very well equipped to handle food waste recycling.
- When asked who was getting left out of the composting business, many experts from government, composters, and policy experts identified mid-size farmer groups. When I explained the business model and asked who they would target were they me, the answer was grocery stores.
- Discussions with Hugh Whalan at Environmental Credit Corp. revealed that there is a strong potential for carbon sequestration credits. The process by which methane is measured is that it is converted to carbon emissions, and as it is much more damaging and potent, it is 23 times more profitable than carbon. 1 ton of methane removed is worth roughly 3 tons of carbon credits. This conversation has renewed our strong interest in studying the hypothesis that bio-pods off-gas less than traditional land fills and thus that there is an opportunity for carbon sequestration credits.
- Amongst one of the best presenters at the conference was Silver Springs Organics, LLC. An extremely innovative small scale process to emulate or partner with.