Upcoming Webinars: ReFED to Launch Insights Engine and Roadmap to 2030

ReFED, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization which takes a data-driven approach to formulating and advocating for food waste solutions in the US, will be introducing new resources and data during a series of webinars next week.

The same presentation will be given on February 2, 3, and 4, 2021, at 12:00 Central Time. You may register to attend one of these presentations at https://refed.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VB5upTxQQV20v_SoLqmDWQ?timezone_id=America%2FChicago.

According to ReFed:

“We’re introducing two new resources that can help the food system cut food waste in half by the year 2030 – plus we’ll be releasing new data showing the extent and impact of food waste in the U.S. over the last ten years.

ReFED’s Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50% looks at the entire food supply chain and identifies seven key action areas for the food system to focus its food waste reduction efforts. It also includes a detailed financial analysis to help direct the private, public, and philanthropic capital investments needed to fund them.

Our Insights Engine is an online hub for data and solutions that can help you bring a food waste reduction initiative to life, including:

– A granular analysis of food waste by sector, state, food type, cause, and impact built from more than 50 public and proprietary datasets;

– A detailed cost-benefit analysis of more than 40 food waste reduction solutions; and

– A directory of more than 700 organizations ready to partner on food waste reduction initiatives.

Food waste is a solvable problem. Join us in February to jumpstart your food waste reduction efforts – and help achieve our 2030 reduction goal.”

Register at https://refed.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VB5upTxQQV20v_SoLqmDWQ?timezone_id=America%2FChicago.

Learn More

ReFed: The Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste

ReFed: Food Waste Solutions


California School District Switches to Biodiesel Made from Waste for School Buses

The October 12, 2020 edition of Waste 360 featured a story on a new initiative of the Twin Rivers Unified School District in  California. From the press release:

“MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif., – The Twin Rivers Unified School District near Sacramento achieved a major milestone in its climate action plan by switching 75 diesel-powered school buses to run on renewable diesel fuel provided by Neste. As a result, the district’s fleet is now fully fossil free and one of the cleanest in the country. Because Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a drop-in fuel, Twin Rivers was able to achieve this remarkable milestone practically overnight.”

According to the article, Twin Rivers USD is the 28th largest school district in California, and started to use electric school buses last year. Now, by switching their remaining diesel-powered buses to renewable diesel, they will achieve an 80% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from those buses. The renewable diesel being used is produced by Neste MY Renewable Diesel, and doesn’t cost any more than the regular diesel previously used. It’s also expected that the biodiesel will improve performance and reduce maintenance costs. As described in the press release,

“Neste’s renewable diesel fuel is made from renewable and sustainably sourced waste materials – such as used cooking oil, rendered fats and grease. These wastes come from hotels, restaurants, sports stadiums and many other venues with industrial kitchens. By collecting and converting these wastes into renewable products, Neste is creating a closed loop system that can help accelerate society’s transition away from fossil fuels.”

The Waste 360 article can be accessed at https://www.waste360.com/fuel/california-school-district-switches-renewable-diesel-powered-buses. Visit the Neste and NesteMY web sites to learn more about the company and the fuel it produces. Food manufacturers and processors interested in supplying used oils for fuel production can explore the concept at https://www.neste.us/neste-in-north-america/suppliers/sell-renewable-raw-materials

Note: Links and companies listed are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as endorsements by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, the Prairie Research Institute, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tdorante10 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Fund Inaugural Call for Projects

Check out the Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Fund inaugural call for projects. Submit a Letter of Intent from Feb. 4 to midnight ET on March 4, 2019. Full applications will be invited by March 29; grant recipients will be notified of awards in May. Full details on who should apply and the evaluation criteria are available at the link below.

Grants will be awarded for emerging technologies and solutions focused on food waste prevention, recovery and recycling; awards will range from $25,000 to $250,000. Grant recipients will also have access to mentoring, the potential to pilot their solution with Kroger and partners, the opportunity to network with peers, and the opportunity to apply for follow-on funding.


Kroger innovation fund logo

Universities Create Biodiesel from Waste Cooking Oil

A recent update from Engineers for a Sustainable World on student projects from 2018 included a note on the University of British Columbia Campus Biodiesel project. See https://www.eswglobal.org/database. According to that synopsis, “The campus biodiesel project seeks to produce biodiesel from waste cooking oil produced on UBC campus. Cooking oil can be collected from the dining halls of first year residence, in partnership with UBC food services. ESW has access to use a reactor system in the Chemical and Biological Engineering building with the capacity to produce 60 L batches. There is also a fuel dispensing system in the equipment yard of the building. The goal of the project is to produce batches of biodiesel with reliable quality to be used by diesel powered vehicles in fleet services.”

More information on the UBC campus biodiesel production project can be found on the Engineers for a Sustainable World UBC web site at http://blogs.ubc.ca/sustainabilityclub/biodiesel-project/.

This project is similar to the Illinois Biodiesel Initiative (IBI), which evolved from an Engineers Without Borders project on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. See https://icap.sustainability.illinois.edu/project/illinois-biodiesel-initiative-ibi and http://biodiesel.illinois.edu/ for further information on that project.

Similar projects have also been coordinated with high school students converting waste cooking oil from K-12 school food service operations for use in district school buses. See the archived suggested activity “Divert or create biodiesel from waste cooking oil” document from the original Green Lunchroom Challenge K-12 pledge program for more information and inspiration for incorporating such an activity, or information about it, into K-12 lesson plans.

Has your college, university, or high school/school district diverted used cooking oil to fuel in a similar fashion? Consider sharing a link to a site describing your efforts or a brief description of your project in the comments section of this post.

Coffee Grounds: Diversion to Biofuel Feedstock

Most food service operations produce some amount of spent coffee grounds. Even in K-12 schools, cafeterias, staff lounges, and administrative offices often serve coffee for the adults on site. I intend to write posts in the near future about some of the more traditional ways to divert spent coffee grounds from landfill (e.g. composting, use as a substrate for growing mushrooms, etc.). But a recent news article has prompted me to highlight a diversion strategy for this material which you may not have considered: feedstock for the production of biofuels.

You may be familiar with using spent cooking oil or grease for the creation of biodiesel. See the archived activity on diversion of waste cooking oil for biodiesel creation for more information. Coffee grounds also contain oils that can be useful in creating biofuels. As reported in the May 10, 2017 issue of Science Daily, a group of researchers from Lancaster University in the UK recently found a way to improve the efficiency of converting coffee grounds to biofuel. Their methods reduced the time required for the process, as well as the amount of chemicals used and chemical waste produced. According to the article: ‘”Our method vastly reduces the time and cost needed to extract the oils for biofuel making spent coffee grounds a much more commercially competitive source of fuel,” said Dr Najdanovic-Visak, Lecturer in Lancaster University’s Engineering Department. “A huge amount of spent coffee grounds, which are currently just being dumped in landfill, could now be used to bring significant environmental benefits over diesel from fossil fuel sources.” The process has the potential to enable 720,000 tonnes of biodiesel to be produced each year from spent coffee grounds.’

On October 2, 2018, Ohio-based Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee at Home introduced a “tiny home” in New York City’s Madison Square Park which is powered by biofuel created from spent coffee grounds. The biofeul is a custom B80 blend created by Blue Marble Biomaterials–80% of the fuel is oil from Dunkin’ coffee grounds and 20% is alcohol to allow the fuel to burn efficiently. The “Home that Runs on Dunkin'” will be open to the public in Madison Square Park in New York City, on Broadway between 23rd and 24th Streets from Thursday, October 4 through Saturday, October 6.  If you’re curious but not in NYC, check out the 360 video tour available at https://www.dunkinathome.com/whats-new/home-runs-on-dunkin. According to that site, “Every 170 pounds of spent coffee grounds yields about one gallon of fuel and is used in a standard biofuel generator.” The site also states that 65,000 pounds of spent Dunkin’ coffee grounds were used to create the biofuel.

Image of a tiny house with a very modern aesthetic, located in a green field surrounded by trees.
The Home that Runs on Dunkin’. From https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8406651-home-that-runs-on-dunkin-donuts-coffee/.

Blue Marble Biomaterials is based in Missoula, MT. Learn more about them at https://bluemarblebio.com/.

Of course, this particular solution isn’t practical for small generators such as a single school, restaurant, or hospital. But restaurant and hotel chains or large institutions, particularly those in areas where on-site composting is infeasible and where commercial composting service is not available, might be interested in exploring the possibility of partnering with a biofuel producer to divert coffee grounds from landfill. To assist in such investigations, see the National Biodiesel Board’s map of member plants at http://biodiesel.org/production/plants/plant-maps#map. You could also reach out to colleges and universities in your area to see if scientists on campus are conducting biofuel research and might be interested in using your spent grounds as feedstock in their experiments.