As consumers’ appetite for recycling evolves, a group of forward thinking food waste experts are helping businesses meet those expectations.
Waste has long been thought an inevitable by-product of production. When it comes to food waste, in particular, it is an unfortunate and ubiquitous reality. Yet, solving the massive food waste problem — and as a result, improving food security — isn’t as simple as, “see the ball, hit the ball.” From farmers to food manufacturers, retailers to personal refrigerators, no two companies, products, facilities or challenges are remotely identical.
Today’s expansive medley of waste material means that securing the future of food is going to be a group effort. Commercial Operator and Sales Manager, Trent Small is responsible for putting that group together at Green Field Solutions. He says it takes a collective of creativity, transparency and determination to engineer modern solutions for the complexities that many companies face inside their manufacturing facilities. We asked him about how GFS’s partnerships with consumer package good companies is making a difference.
Who will solve the future of food?
I can tell you that no one person is going to have all the answers. However, Green Field Solutions is a formidable player in the future of our food. Our company culture is such that we are never satisfied with a solution. We are determined to find the best solution for whatever the food waste, solid waste or recycling challenge might be. Customizing the right team for the specific challenge is important.
In our industry, an effective team is made up of experts in animal nutrition, equipment handling, zero waste recycling and plant operations…depending on the need, of course. My job is to take all of these different expertise and assemble a well-balanced team that is capable of finding the best solution.
Every manufacturing facility has its own waste and recycling challenges. A team with the right skillset is flexible and knowledgeable and determined to figure out those dynamics. And if Green Field Solutions doesn’t have an exact expertise in-house, we aren’t shy to bring in additional partners, because, in this industry, it’s never as simple as “see the ball, hit the ball.”
What are some less obvious industrial recycling solutions?
There’s a lot of work that goes into finding the most efficient solution, but there is serious value in that work. Recycling cardboard and plastic, for example, is not a new concept, but there’s massive room for improvement.
There is a potential to get paid to recycle plastic and cardboard at somewhere around $40-$200 per ton in today’s market. A great first step is not tossing those materials in the dumpster, where it costs between $100-$200 per ton to discard it. Industrial recyclers also have strict bale criteria for height and weight and contamination. Not meeting those requirements immediately devalues your recyclables. We can help you avoid that.
Whether or not a company is already recycling, GFS can identify the less obvious areas for improvement. Facility space is a big one. Recently, we freed up 20,000 square feet of space for a client by installing more efficient cardboard balers — that’s half of their warehouse! Then, there’s ingredient sacks. The companies that don’t recycle them are missing out on a payout around $15 per ton. You can imagine how many feed sacks a single facility or a global company might have. That adds up.
Education is part of the solution, too. We are as much educators as we are solution providers. We teach people why we do what we do. I believe companies and employees want to do the right thing, sometimes they just don’t know what that is. It’s been an important evolution in our business to take a step back from what we do and explain the ins-and-outs of it all.
How is GFS forward thinking when it comes to managing food waste?
Under one roof, GFS has some of the smartest people in their respective expertise. They represent every aspect of our client’s food waste management needs. Because our team understands the minutia of operations and logistics, food and feed nutrition, and industrial and alternative recycling better than everyone else, we are able to maximize value for our clients unlike anyone else.
One of the most valuable aspects of our recycling expertise is our commitment to data management and brand security. From our people to our portal, GFS provides the traceability and transparency no one else does.
What do you mean by traceability and transparency?
Quality and transparency are important in our industry for the sake of our client’s reputation and liability. Do you really know what happens to your solid waste and by-product waste once it leaves your facility? You absolutely should!
Our processes and procedures guarantee that everything leaving our client’s facilities is tracked and goes exactly where we say it is going to go. That’s part of why we’ve been around for 40+ years, because we don’t deviate from our standards. I see it in action every day within our team. Nobody cuts corners and everyone puts the needs of the customers above all else.