Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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AUGUST 2018 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • 79 Waste Management and a Circular Economy M indset is everything. Sometimes it's hard to see the bigger picture when deciding whether to grab that bottle of water or toss food into the trash. Even as more consumers and businesses today recycle, compost, donate food and do what they can to cut down on their landfill contributions, sometimes it takes a bigger step forward to truly close the loop. That's where the notion of a "circular economy" comes into play. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as an indus- trial model that goes beyond the current "take, make and dispose" with a more restorative and regenerative model by design. Relying on system-wide innova- tion, a circular economy aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing negative impacts. The idea is that such a regenerative system reduces waste, emissions, energy and water usage through "material loops," such as recy- cling, reuse and regrowth in various forms. Proponents argue that circular business models can be just as profitable as linear ones, and help build economic, natural and social capital. "In a circular economy, we need to think of our foodservice operation as being part of a system rather than an island," says Andrew Shakman, CEO of LeanPath, a waste management consultancy. "We rely on our supply chain to bring in the key food and supplies and equipment to run our business, but we also need to think of everything we throw away as potentially serving as a resource for some other business or function." Of course, nothing beats the act of reduction — aim- ing to produce less waste in the first place. But, if and when waste exists, ensuring adequate reuse of the waste rather than sending it to a landfill becomes the next most important step in a waste management hierarchy. Certainly recycling is one of the most prominent examples of a circular economy. End users send their waste to recycling companies, which turn the plastic, glass or aluminum into a reusable form for use in another product. Every player benefits, from the manufacturer to the middleman to the end-user. Aquaponics presents another great example of a closed-loop system. These recirculating water systems send natural fertilizers from fish and other aquatic animals to grow plants. The plants also provide nutrients to the fish, which can even- tually be harvested and used for food themselves. Shakman notes that food in partic- ular is a very valuable output because it contains energy — particularly food with high fat content. "Foodservice has a very different oppor- tunity than a corporate office recycling paper," he says. "This is why there is such a well-entrenched rendering industry." That includes the growing biodiesel, anaerobic digestion and organic fertilizer industries. Two strong examples of circular economies in the foodservice industry include circulating liquefied food waste and cooking oil. Circulating Liquid Food Waste Industrial and commercial food waste can play a role in creating natural fertilizers that can then help grow more food. "This is a central concept within circularity: An operator's waste becomes a feedstock for another business," Shakman says. "There are, however, some things that might seem circular but probably are not." The key is to have a handoff to someone else that values what you are transferring," he says. While composting facilities WASTE MANAGEMENT SERIES Manage food waste. Maximize profitability. ©2018 InSinkErator InSinkErator is a business unit of Emerson Electric Co. By Amelia Levin

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