Last week I had the benefit of meeting the team that is revolutionizing the way restaurants will look at their waste. The group is Fox Pollutions Systems from the UK and Germany and I met them in the corporate offices of Ted’s Montana Grill. They have developed a unit which is installed in restaurants to capture the food prep and table scraps that would otherwise be hauled off with the garbage. In the case of some dense communities (such as Manhattan), the cost of hauling off food waste is attached to a tip fees in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
This device (called the FoxSMB2) is like a small dishwasher size stainless unit that fits under the sink (similar to a disposal). The machine will reduce the waste by over 60% of its original weight, minimizing costs to dispose while creating a sustainable product that could even be used as waste to energy. Imagine the day when a city such as New York could be powered via food waste. The water “squeezed” out of the scraps is then treated to reduce methane (a major global culprit of climate change) and sent to the city’s waste water treatment facilities along with other used water.
I first heard about this group from Annie White, the director of Global Green USA’s CORR (Coalition for Resource Recovery) program, who told me that more than 1,100 tons of food is sent to waste EVERY DAY in New York City. That is about the same as paper, metal, plastic and glass combined. Using a tip fee of $100, the costs to tax payers and businesses for disposing trash is roughly $450 million a year.
Enter the FoxSMB2 unit and you have a solution for reducing the waste and the cost by more than half, and creating a material which can solve energy issues. In areas where the waste materials is not needed for energy, it can simply be composted.
The technology isn’t new. It has been used in Europe on ships by both the UK Navy, Cruise lines and other merchants for years. We are finally getting around to using this technology to solve social and environmental issues AND save money (the leading driver these days). I give great kudos to the team developing this technology and to Annie White and her colleagues who are bringing it to the restaurant industries. Ted’s Montana Grill has been testing it in their Midtown Atlanta location and hopes to test downtown where the conditions more closely resemble those of a New York restaurant. If all goes well, I hope we see these devices in every food preparation station in America or the World.