WISErg’s Harvester machine refines food scraps and compostable utensils in an all-natural process that produces a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer approved for organic food production. The Harvester can process up to 4,000 pounds of organic waste per day without producing any harmful byproducts, emissions, or odors and while using the same amount of energy as a home refrigerator.
WISErg is led by co-founders Larry LeSueur and Jose Lugo, Chief Science Officer Victor Tryon, and a team of technology, agriculture, and microbiology experts.
A United Nation’s report reveals that various inputs used for food production and disposal—including energy, water, chemicals, and the time and energy invested in the 30 percent of global farmland used to cultivate food—are wasted along with actual food waste. Food waste ranks third behind all carbon emissions—at 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 40 percent of food produced for human consumption in the US goes uneaten. The NRDC estimates that U.S. food production consumes up to 10 percent of the total energy budget, 50 percent of land, and 80 percent of freshwater in the country. But almost 30 percent of the food supply is lost at the retail level due to inefficient food stock and food service practices.
The Harvester is equipped with tracking technology that allows it to examine all the contents that it processes to collect information about what food and how much of it is being wasted.
As food scraps enter the Harvester, it monitors data about the discards—weight and images—revealing food waste trends in the food inventory from each department. The Harvester is then able to generate regular real-time, cloud-based reports detailing food waste trends that will help food retailers and commercial kitchens make more informed buying decisions, better manage inventory, and address personnel issues contributing to food waste. The tracking technology even generates comparative reports that alert retailers to food waste levels and trends at other retailers equipped with a Harvester.
WISErg ultimately aims to prevent food waste altogether by: 1) capturing all nutrients from food scraps before it becomes food waste and 2) using the data collected by Harvesters to locate the points in each food retailer’s supply chain where food waste is generated.
Preliminary research by WISErg indicates that the return on investment—for retailers using the Harvester—generated by eschewing traditional forms of food waste disposal methods outweighs the cost of initial investment in Harvester technology.
The Harvester first debuted in 2012 at grocery stores in Washington state and has since been adopted by the state’s PCC Natural Markets—a Seattle-based food cooperative with over 45,000 members.
Preliminary results from studies from the University of Arizona and Washington State University on the impact that fertilizer produced by WISErg has on crop growth indicates that the fertilizer has a bio-stimulant effect and improves soil structure.
The California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program have approved WISErg’s organic fertilizer for use by organic growers.