Q&A: Erica Vranak Talks Grind2Energy
The Grind2Energy system enables retailers to handle food waste faster, cleaner and easier, says Erica Vranak, senior marketing manager, commercial solutions group for Emerson.
How big an issue is food waste in this country?
Erica Vranak: In the U.S., the average commercial kitchen produces more than 4,000 pounds of food waste each week. For grocers, the average store throws away the equivalent of one in seven truckloads. Retailers aim to meet customer demands by offering more quality, fresh food items; however, more stocked units and more prepared perishables yields more food waste by-products. Traditionally, food waste is taken to a landfill where it decomposes and generates methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and is a major contributor to global warming. To reduce this harmful impact on the environment, many states, local municipalities and companies are eliminating organic waste from landfills and requiring source separating and diversion of organic waste to either composting or anaerobic digestion facilities.
How is Emerson working to address the issue?
With the number of statewide food waste bans increasing, more commercial food waste-generating facilities are interested in responsible recycling and disposal. Emerson offers a range of solutions for commercial operators—from InSinkErator disposers to the revolutionary Grind2Energy recycling system. An alternative to compost or landfills, Grind2Energy allows you to handle food waste faster, cleaner and easier while producing renewable energy and supporting your community. Food waste truly does not have to go to waste anymore.
How does Grind2Energy work exactly?
Grind2Energy is a closed loop system that begins by grinding food scraps into a liquid “slurry” that is pumped to an on-site holding tank. We remotely monitor the levels of the slurry and then arrange for it to be vacuumed from the tank and transported to a nearby anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. At the AD, the methane released from the decomposing food waste is captured and transformed into renewable energy such as electricity, natural gas or compressed natural gas, which can be used as vehicle fuel. Any leftover solids are recycled into fertilizer and used to grow more food.
What are the benefits to having a Grind2Energy system?
Grind2Energy is a sustainable solution that is good for your store, community and environment and it is more preferable than composting per the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy because of the valuable resources it produces.
Our non-sewer based technology enables you to dispose of all types of food without special additives—from fruits and vegetables, to dairy and meats. Grind2Energy even handles bones, fat, trimmings and fryer grease. No other method for food waste management compares. Each Grind2Energy system is custom designed and tailored for your unique needs. We start with a site assessment to determine food waste volume and installation options to locate the system and tank for maximum operational efficiency. Then, we arrange the installation and provide staff training. We also offer 24/7 support and an all-inclusive service program that includes technology upgrades and preventive maintenance. All of this is offered on a subscription basis without the capital investment of equipment to buy or service on your own.
By eliminating messy, leaky dumpsters and streamlining your waste stream, our turnkey solution results in improved sanitation and prevents or completely eliminates pests and odors. Employees and customers alike will enjoy a safer, cleaner, more pleasant environment. In addition to diverting that waste from landfills, the local community benefits by recycling food waste into renewable energy to power nearby homes and into beneficial fertilizers that farmers use to grow more food.