Farm Boy Grocery is partnering with Food Cycle Science on a project that will test an on-site organic food waste mechanical/drying system. As a way to extract lost value from waste, this project will show how a small footprint, on-site system can process organic food waste at grocery retailers to reduce handling, storage and transportation costs – while producing an end-product with beneficial nutrient and fertilizer properties.
Food Cycle Science is an Ottawa-based clean-tech start-up company that was incorporated in 2011. It claims that its FoodCycler unit is capable of reducing food scraps by 90%, while converting the remaining 10% in a soil amendment. It also claims that its system is odorless, silent, and energy efficient.
When in operation, the enclosed system first agitates the food waste, breaking it down into small particles. While it is being agitated, it is also heated, partially decomposing and sterilizing the by-product entirely. The carbon filter filtration system on the unit is used for odour control. The FoodCycler process takes anywhere from 2-6 hours for the process to completely dehydrate the food waste.
The form of the by-product that is generated from the process varies depending on the type of food waste being processed. Fish or cooked vegetables appear as fine powder form, and uncooked vegetables appear in a small cereal-like form. Cake, rice, and starches will have a thicker, chunkier texture.
The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences undertook an initial characterization of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the organic material produced by the FoodCycler unit located at the Cornwall Community Hospital. The preliminary results indicated that the FoodCycler material met most of the requirements for metals, pathogens and maturity for AA compost in Ontario.
Partial funding for the project is provided through the BLOOM Centre’s Clean Technology Demonstration Program. Under Bloom Centre program, demonstrations consist of unique collaborative projects involving both a cleantech solution provider and an end-use customer ‘host’ who is representative of the broader sector. In addition, each project includes other strategic partners to support the roll-out and market adoption of the low-carbon cleantech solution following completion of the demonstration.
The outcomes and results of the demonstration project will be used to:
- Inform stakeholders in the food supply industry that viable cleantech and low carbon solutions are commercially available;
- Reduce the perceived environmental, economic, and business risks of adopting cleantech solutions;
- Bridge the ‘adoption gap’ and increase the market demand for cleantech solutions; and
- Quantify the economic, GHG emission reduction and other environmental and societal benefits from the widespread adoption of cleantech solutions in Ontario.
This is not the first foray into food recycling by Farm Boy Grocery. In 2017, the company partnered with a company that developed a mobile app, Flashfood, meant to help tackle the enormous environmental issue of food waste, while offering discerning consumers savings on products they would purchase anyway. It’s the first and only app focused on reducing that food waste by partnering with grocers to sell surplus items at reduced prices.
The Flashfood app allows for grocery stores to post their high-quality, surplus grocery items like prepared meals, breads and dairy before they end up as food waste. As they near their best-before date, Flashfood lists the products at lower prices for them to be purchased instead of thrown out to landfills. Savvy shoppers can buy items through the app and pick them up in store at great prices.
The Farm Boy demonstration project is scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2019.