Reuse, recycle and repurpose is a lifestyle I learned from watching my grandparents. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the challenges they endured in their lifetimes, and I admire many of the values they demonstrated: taking pride in hard work, using resources wisely, and refusing to waste. I also admire how connected they were to their food supply, often growing or raising their own.
Today, these values are central to the work I do at Green Field Solutions (GFS) as a sustainability manager. In fact, we use the same framework at GFS as my grandfather did. We repurpose everything for its best use — reuse, recycle and repurpose — as we pursue a zero waste circular economy. Working with food manufacturers, we give new purpose to food waste along the supply chain in smart, easy, and secure ways. By finding solutions for food recycling for animal feed, we are not only providing nutritious ingredients for livestock and pet foods, we are unlocking the potential value of by-products and making the most out of excess food resources.
GFS FRAMEWORK FOR INNOVATION
Through advanced R&D, a wide range of low-to-no value food by-products can be transformed into valuable revenue streams. The Green Field Solutions framework for innovation creates brand new knowledge and previously undiscovered material use that impacts our clients and improves our environment.
Food waste management: Low-hanging fruit
Often, value can be quickly realized by making minor improvements to a company’s food waste management stream. Small adjustments in material handing can quickly lead to more repurposing and less landfilling. Improvements in waste characterization, quality and regulatory documentation, and handling practices can yield great benefits. Companies that manage their by-product streams also see benefits in risk management and lower their exposure to liability issues, all while making the most of food resources.
Case in Point: Complex Site Needs Many Partners
When a large confectioner was struggling to place millions of pounds of various by-products, GFS worked with them to improve basic processes and procedures around handling and recycling the organic by-products. Instead of managing multiple, expensive and unreliable off-take services, GFS’s food waste management solutions turned what was once an operating cost into a revenue source.
Sustainable food systems: Optimizing resources
Sustainable food manufacturing goes beyond landfill avoidance, to optimizing resources for their best possible use at their greatest possible value. Applications like composting and low-value animal feed often fall short of a food by-product’s greatest economic value and sustainable reuse. Everyday, our team of feed scientists and market experts are on the ground, optimizing what was once considered refuse into a valuable and sustainable food resource.
Case in Point: Don’t Throw That Milk Away
Dairy processing companies are often challenged with the economic and environmental impact that expired or near-date retail products create. What if, instead of destroying near expired milk, we could collect, repackage, dry, and repurpose it? Working with a large national dairy company, GFS did just that. We developed a logistics process that keeps millions of pounds of quality product in the global supply chain.
Innovations that reduce food waste
Research and technology are the means by which new applications for raw materials are developed. Add to that sophisticated sales and marketing strategies, and GFS clients are changing the nature of their low-value and costly by-products. By enhancing unique nutritional characteristics and capitalizing on new markets and opportunities, our team of animal nutritionists and market experts are responsible for many food industry innovations, bold new projects and game-changers in up-cycling everything from cheesy leftovers to bakery meal to excess lunchmeat.
Case in Point: Innovating New Product from Dairy Residuals
Liquid whey permeate is a dairy by-product that the cheese industry produces in the billions of pounds. At one time, the primary option for its disposal was landspreading, a practice that is costly and environmentally unsustainable. GFS and its partner company, International Ingredient Corporation, conducted trials, invested in new equipment, and commercialized the material in 26 countries. What was once a costly waste stream is now a value-added revenue stream.
A GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
By taking the innovation pathway less traveled, we are unlocking a multiplier effect in sustainability while creating more value for our clients. It is our passion to discover new uses for existing food by-products where alternate products may be resource intensive.
In 2020, the GFS team repurposed more than 1.75 billion pounds of food manufacturing residuals. By keeping the product out of landfill and putting it to its best use, we avoided more that 47 million tons of CO2 (MTCO2e). That is equivalent to the environment impact of taking more than 40 million passenger cars off the road for one year or the amount of carbon sequestered by over 1.2 million acres of U.S. forests preserved from conversion to cropland in a single year.
At the end of the day, I’m proud to work for Green Field Solutions, a company that upholds the values of my family who came before me. And I’m grateful to share our innovative and impactful work with so many in the sustainable food community. We will continue to demonstrate the values of hard work, innovating to avoid waste and partnering to maximize the value of food co-products.