Food processors save money by treating organic waste on site

‘America went crazy for it’: Advetec CEO on food waste digester

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Advetec waste bio-thermic digester

Related tags Food waste Water Anaerobic digestion

Advetec says demand for its food waste processors is rocketing as more countries and cities are introducing mandatory organics recycling. 

Craig Shaw, CEO of science and engineering firm Advetec, which is based in Bath, UK, told that the company’s Bio-Thermic Digester (BTD) can deal with producers’ food waste on site, saving money on transportation and disposal.  

“The amount of work we’ve got on is crazy, we can’t build them fast enough,” ​he said. “We’re in a rapid growth cycle now with enquiries from all over the world.”

Bio thermic Digester - exterior 3

Reduce transportation costs

“It’s going to continue to grow for the next three to four years at least, before we see a slow down.”

The BTD uses bacteria to ‘eat’ food waste from factories or municipalities, converting it into distilled water and a powder by-product.

High water content makes food waste expensive to transport. The BTD – which is around the size of a large lorry or container – can be installed on site, and is controlled remotely by Advetec.

Shaw claims that it makes producers more profitable, giving a return of investment within 18 months and reducing waste volumes by over 96%.

“The reason it’s doing so well is you put our machine at the point where the waste is produced,” ​he said. “Instead of a skip, you put in our machine. You don’t have to haul waste – that’s a huge cost in the US, where distances are vast.”

An initial model of the BTD was released six years ago but the Advetec found companies were unwilling to put up the capital during the recession. So the company used the following years to improve the design and now believes the time is right for a re-release.

“We launched the BTD in 2008, which was the worst time to release anything,” ​Shaw said. “We went back to the drawing board, and through to 2013 it went through a complete re-design.

Look at waste differently

“The recession was brilliant for us, it allowed us to put the machine in a lot of waste situations, and allowed the clients to find the weakness and us to modify it,”​ he added.

“About this time last year America went crazy for it. At the same time the Middle East went, then the UK started to wake up to it.”

It takes between 48 and 72 hours for the bacteria to process a batch of food waste. Shaw says this compares to over two weeks in other food waste processors.

“We look at waste in a different way. In other composters, the bacteria strains don’t tolerate change very well. You throw fat in there, and that makes the machine inefficient,”​ he said. 

“The most important thing is the cultures and ultimately it’s about the environment and creating the ultimate conditions for bacteria. They will eat through an amazing amount of waste, and fast. It’s down to minimum residue in three working days, and our process is continuous,​” Shaw added.

A BTD can processes up to 33 tonnes of food waste a day, but Advetec is developing ways to process much larger amounts.

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