July 14, 2016

A Green Way to Eliminate Food Waste and Save the Planet

SMART MEETINGS: Organic food waste is an inevitable byproduct in commercial kitchens. A Liquid Food Composter (LFC) is a green solution.

Organic food waste is an inevitable byproduct in commercial kitchens. Hotels usually dump this recyclable waste into garbage containers, where it can become smelly and attract flies and rodents. They then pay considerable sums to have it hauled to landfills, where it rots and emits carbon dioxide and methane—two major contributors to global warming.

A Liquid Food Composter (LFC) is a green solution. The device, manufactured by San Jose, California-based Power Knot, allows hotels and restaurants to reduce their carbon footprints and come closer to having zero waste at their facilities.

Using natural microbes, enzymes and oxygen, the fully-enclosed LFC unit churns and breaks down most food waste in less than 24 hours. Water is injected to flush the biodegraded material through the system, and then the environmentally safe, nutrient-rich grey water can be used to enrich the landscape.

Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, bread, rice and noodles—raw or cooked—can safely be fed into the LFC at any time, and the machine doesn’t need emptying. The unit is on castors, so it can easily be moved or repositioned in the kitchen. Installation is simple, requiring just an electrical supply, hot and cold water input, and a drain out.

Two Hotel Engineers Weigh In

Raymond Linares is director of engineering at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami in Miami, Florida. The hotel used to have a waste company come and haul away trash several times per week until Linares learned about the Power Knot Liquid Food Composter, about a year ago.

“We were looking for ways to improve our green initiatives and also lower our monthly operating expenses for electricity, water and waste removal. While we recycle carton, plastics and metals, I realized that we could improve our initiatives for waste,” Linares said.

The hotel bought a unit. “It’s easy to operate and has made a real difference in our waste production,” Linares says. “We have reduced our carbon footprint as an operation, and have won sustainability awards locally. On a personal level, I feel like I’m doing my part to leave this planet in a better condition for my kid’s generation.”

Tim Hotter is director of engineering at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida. The property used to have a company pick up its compostable material, but when the company went out of business several months ago, they required a new solution. They purchased two LFC units—a large one for the hotel’s main kitchen, and a smaller unit for their stand-alone restaurant.

Although he acknowledges that some fibrous foods slow down the digesting process, Hotter is genuinely delighted with the results. “We love our LFCs,” he says. “We looked at other composting units but really like the technology of the liquid food composting. Imagine taking up to a half ton of food waste and turning it into grey water overnight! You have to experience it to believe it.”

To Hotter, the benefits are many. “Hyatt Hotels has a big goal for waste diversion, so many of us are looking for ways to divert the food waste. Composting is the way to go,” he says. He adds that financially, it does have some payback. “We are sending less waste tonnage to the landfill, so over time the units will pay for themselves on what is saved from compactor pulls and tonnage fees levied at the landfill sight.”

Iain Milnes, president of Power Knot, brings up two other benefits. He notes that the units digitally weigh and record the amount of food waste that is discarded, providing valuable data to management. And because employees can continually feed food waste into the LFC, they avoid injuries carrying and lifting heavy containers of waste material into outdoor trash bins.

In addition to the environmental benefits, Milnes believes his product will help the hospitality industry grow. “Reducing the hospitality industry’s carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of landfill waste and minimizing the use of excess energy is an essential requirement for hotels and resorts going forward if they want to continue to see growth in the industry,” he says.

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