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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Eco-Entrepreneurship Project
(2021)

Rubbish: Diverting Neglected Organic Waste from Landfills to Create Renewable Energy and High Quality Compost

Carrots and artichokes fresh from farm.

Description

Our current food systems are wasteful and disconnected. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in organic waste disposal practices. The United States is at risk of reaching landfill capacity by 2045; states like California could reach capacity as much as a decade sooner. Food waste is a significant contributor to this problem. Although federal and state governments have made efforts to divert organic waste from landfills, 35% of organic waste still goes to the landfill. Small businesses face more challenges than larger businesses when it comes to organic waste reduction due to slim margins and lack of infrastructure. This is an important segment to address since approximately 76% of grocers and restaurants combined have fewer than 20 employees. These small businesses must begin to manage their organic waste or risk regulatory non-compliance. But to do this, small businesses want options that are cost effective and operationally convenient so environmental action is less of a burden. Rubbish solves this problem by using two neglected organic waste streams—food waste from small food businesses and dog waste—to produce renewable energy and high-quality compost. The by-products of our approach help to lower our cost of operation which we can then pass on to our small business customers. This process also provides small businesses with a holistic narrative connecting their food business back to the land that their food comes from.

Acknowledgements

Andrew Konigsberg, Strategic Advisor, Clear Creek Investments LLC

Ben Faber, Crop Advisor, UCANR

Dan Pullman, Managing Partner, Fresh Peaks Capital, LLC

Elisa Stewart, Owner, Stewart Law

Elizabeth Washburn Surti, Director, Diligence Team, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Minos Athanassiadis, Managing Partner, Fresh Link Group

Karla Mora, Founder and Managing Partner, Alante Capital

Noushin Ketabi, Co-Founder, Vega Coffee

Bren School: Emily Cotter, Lecturer and Eco-E Program Manager; Jakob Wilford-Bivin, MESM Candidate; Keene Morrow, MESM Candidate; Patricia Holden, Professor; Qusai Bhaijeewala, MESM Candidate