Reducing Food Waste: Shawn Kreloff, CEO

Reducing Food Waste: Shawn Kreloff of Bioenergy Devco On How They Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste
An Interview With Martita Mestey

Emerging technologies present a solution to counteract the effects of climate change from food production. However, it is essential that companies evaluate the benefits that these sustainable practices offer for agricultural production, the preservation of the environment and the promotion of the principles of the circular economy, since not all of them offer a holistic solution to the problem.

It has been estimated that each year, more than 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That equates to more than $160 billion worth of food thrown away each year. At the same time, in many parts of the United States, there is a crisis caused by people having limited access to healthy & affordable food options. The waste of food is not only a waste of money and bad for the environment, but it is also making vulnerable populations even more vulnerable.

Authority Magazine started a new series called “How Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies and Food Companies Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste.” In this interview series, we are talking to leaders and principals of Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies, Food Companies, and any business or nonprofit that is helping to eliminate food waste, about the initiatives they are taking to eliminate or reduce food waste.

Mr. Kreloff is the Founder and CEO of Bioenergy Devco, a global pioneer and leader in the engineering and operations of anaerobic digestion facilities. Bioenergy Devco collaborates with businesses, communities, and governments to address the challenge of organic food waste at scale utilizing a natural anaerobic digestion process. This process generates clean, renewable energy and contributes to cleaner air, water, and healthy soils for communities. With the combination of more than twenty years of anaerobic digestion technology and expertise in financing, engineering, and management, Kreloff has introduced advanced, climate-mitigating anaerobic digestion solutions to North America. With a distinguished track record spanning 30 years, Kreloff has excelled in founding, investing in, and managing successful enterprises.

Bioenergy Devco is a global leader in designing, engineering, constructing, financing and operating advanced anaerobic digester systems. Our proven technology uses naturally occurring biological processes and provides a scalable option to help communities and businesses transform their waste and energy sectors. Headquartered in Annapolis, MD, Bioenergy Devco has built 250+ and manages more than 150 organics recycling and clean energy generation facilities worldwide. Its anaerobic digesters help mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. What exactly are we talking about when we refer to food waste?

Inthe United States, an alarming statistic reveals that more than one-third of the food produced ends up uneaten, wasting the resources used to produce it. Unfortunately, a significant portion of this wasted food finds its way to landfills, where it breaks down and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Shockingly, wasted food constitutes the largest category of material being landfilled or incinerated in the country, making up 24% and 22% of municipal solid waste, respectively.

Moreover, approximately 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste. Emissions from pre and post-food production processes such as packaging, transportation, household consumption, and food waste disposal are on track to exceed emissions caused by land-use change, according to an FAO study.

Can you help articulate a few of the main causes of food waste?

Food waste spans the entire production spectrum, from distribution to retail, and finally consumer. A significant contributor to this problem is consumer behavior, where purchases are often made without thoughtful consideration of consumption, resulting in uneaten surplus items.

Additionally, stringent food safety protocols within industrial processing contribute to substantial wastage. These protocols allow no margin for error, leading to the rejection of items that fail to meet exacting quality standards. Reasons for rejection can range from overcooking to packaging defects and even minor discrepancies in size or weight.

In the United States, the establishment of a circular economy faces a significant challenge due to the inadequate infrastructure for commercial organics recycling. Consequently, a considerable portion of municipal organic waste ends up in landfills, exacerbating climate pollution.

Addressing the inherent waste in food production requires embracing innovation and adopting emerging technologies. By harnessing these advancements, communities and businesses can convert organic waste into valuable resources such as clean, renewable energy sources and reusable biofertilizers. This shift promotes more sustainable resource utilization across waste and energy sectors, facilitating a transition towards a more circular and efficient system.

What are a few of the obstacles that companies and organizations face when it comes to distributing extra or excess food? What can be done to overcome those barriers?

Despite significant investments by Congress and increased private sector interest, the clean energy transition is hindered by fundamental flaws in the approval process for energy projects. These flaws, if left unaddressed, threaten to derail progress toward a clean energy economy.

Bureaucratic delays in the approval and review of permits are stalling the advancement of clean energy initiatives nationwide. These delays impede the timely implementation of crucial projects, exacerbating the urgency of addressing climate change.

Also, inadequate infrastructure for food recovery and redistribution poses a significant challenge to efficiently redistributing excess food. This includes insufficient facilities for storing and handling perishable items, as well as a lack of technology to track and manage food inventory effectively.

Can you describe a few of the ways that you or your organization are helping to reduce food waste?

At Bioenergy Devco, we’re at the forefront of tackling food waste through our innovative anaerobic digester systems. We specialize in designing, engineering, constructing, financing, and operating advanced anaerobic digester systems. These systems utilize natural biological processes, much like a cow’s stomach, to break down organic waste and generate renewable energy.

With over 25 years of experience, Bioenergy Devco has constructed over 250 anaerobic digesters across Europe and the United States, managing 140 of them. Our expertise and track record demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and waste reduction.

Our anaerobic digestion technology offers a scalable solution for communities and businesses looking to transform their waste management practices. By redirecting food waste from landfills and recycling it through our systems, we can reduce up to 40% of the residuals typically sent to landfills, land applied, or incinerated.

Each year, our anaerobic digestion process helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to removing nearly 19,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road annually. This significant reduction in emissions underscores the environmental benefits of our technology.

  • Our first facility in the United States, located in Jessup, Maryland, has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response. Through this facility and others like it, we’re demonstrating the tangible impact of anaerobic digestion on waste reduction and renewable energy generation.
  • By leveraging our expertise in anaerobic digestion technology, Bioenergy Devco is playing a pivotal role in the fight against food waste, while simultaneously promoting renewable energy production and environmental sustainability.

What things the community/society/politicians can do to help address the root of this problem?

Establishing a legislative path to organic diversion is essential to encourage sustainable waste management practices and mitigate the environmental impact of organic waste.

A legislative framework that provides a structured and standardized approach to addressing the challenges associated with organic waste, offering guidelines for waste reduction, recycling, and composting, is vital to move quickly towards the path to organic diversion. And, while legislation will differ state-by-state, governments at all levels can play a crucial role in incentivizing businesses and individuals to adopt organic diversion practices. County-level legislation can streamline the permitting process, stimulating industry growth, and employing a strategic combination of incentives and penalties needed to ameliorate this problem.

It’s important to recognize that addressing food waste needs a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders. By working together, businesses, government agencies, and communities can collectively create a more sustainable food system and make significant strides towards reducing organic waste.

Are there other leaders or organizations who have done good work to address food waste? Can you tell us what they have done? What specifically impresses you about their work?

Numerous leaders and organizations have made commendable efforts to tackle food waste, demonstrating innovative solutions and impactful initiatives.

Emerging technologies present a solution to counteract the effects of climate change from food production. However, it is essential that companies evaluate the benefits that these sustainable practices offer for agricultural production, the preservation of the environment and the promotion of the principles of the circular economy, since not all of them offer a holistic solution to the problem.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently published a report assessing 11 common pathways for managing wasted food in the country. This report introduced a groundbreaking ranking system, “The Wasted Food Scale,” which highlights anaerobic digestion (AD) as a preferable pathway for food waste management. By endorsing AD alongside composting, the EPA emphasizes its potential contributions to environmental sustainability and circular economy principles.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much, and we wish you only continued success.

Written by Martita Mestey
Writer for Authority Magazine
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