EcoScraps collects a store’s food waste – then sells it back in the form of compost

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Collecting waste from stores and selling compost back




Closing the food waste loop and generating revenue


According to a study done by the USDA, approximately 30 million tons — over a quarter — of America’s food is thrown away every year. As bad as this sounds, the EPA has gone on to report that disposing of said waste costs over $1 billion a year. If that wasn’t enough, food waste contributes around 8 percent of all pollution in the United States, right behind the 12 percent that automobiles produce.

In response to this, a Utah-based startup called EcoScraps has developed a business model that involves collecting and composting leftover food scraps from retail stores, and then selling the compost as a revenue generator.

This realization that America has become so wasteful with leftover food was the major driving in the company’s development. EcoScraps founder Dan Blake said he was a college student, treating himself to an all-you-can-eat buffet when he saw the restaurant’s trash can was mostly filled with food that full-stomached patrons couldn’t finish.  This realization made him try to reverse the wasteful tendencies of businesses by properly distributing the waste and turning into useful compost.  

Not only is EcoScraps selling the food waste as compost to consumers, it is also selling it back to the retailers that it received the food scraps from in the first place. For example, EcoScraps collected the food waste from warehousing giant Costco, one of the company’s first clients, composted what they could and sold the compost back to Costco for use and re-sale in its garden department. A closed-loop system like this is an ideal solution in such a wasteful society, and shows that corporations are even willing to pay for their own garbage. For now, EcoScraps is working mainly in the American Southwest, but recent investments in the company will be used to expand nationally.

Drew Nitschke is a first-year graduate student at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, working towards degree in Environmental Economics and Policy. He is especially interested in sustainability and how it relates to business of all sizes. He graduated from UCLA in June 2012 after...
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