By Myra Klockenbrink
It was a bright day earlier this year visiting Bright Feeds, the new food waste recovery center in Berlin, CT, just 25 minutes from Hartford and near the area where the giant state run MIRA incinerator used to operate prior to shutting down in July 2022.
Opened just 10 months ago, the Bright Feeds plant is already converting 150 tons of food waste per day into nutritious animal feed, and within a couple of years, expects to double this amount to 315 tons/day.
Short of feeding people, feeding animals may be the best use of food waste resources because it creates significant benefits for the environment, society and the economy.
Three years ago Brights Feeds was no more than a drawing on the back of a napkin. Now the company has over 20 employees and is preserving food waste as a food resource (rather than turning it into energy or fertilizer) that is sold at a discount to corn and soy, saving money for farmers.
With an average ratio of 60-70 percent input to output, Bright Feeds produces six to seven tons of feed for every ten tons of food waste it processes.
The food waste comes from food companies like Table Talk Pies, food distributors like Walmart and Cisco, and institutions like schools, hospitals and cafeterias.
The animal feed that is produced through a patented process goes to feed hogs, chickens, and cattle.
There are no tipping fees at Bright Feeds and producers can drop their food waste at the facility for free, saving businesses and municipalities millions of dollars.
Scott Kalb, Chairman of Bright Feeds and a Greenwich resident, says there is a huge feed market in the US — 100 million tons a year just for hogs and chickens — and an enormous food waste problem, with over 100 million tons of food in the US wasted every year.
“Bright Feeds is the kind of circular economy solution that we need,” Kalb said.
Every ton of food waste that Bright Feeds processes is one ton less that is incinerated or sent to landfills, where it produces toxic ash and dangerous carbon emissions.
Bright Feeds’ process is carbon negative, preventing one ton of carbon emissions for every ton of food waste it processes, and at capacity the Berlin plant will remove the equivalent of 155,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year.
Asked whether Bright Feeds might take municipal food scraps, Mr. Kalb hesitated.
“We would like to tackle residential food waste, but it is a complicated issue,” he said. “The question is risk control. We are a regulated food producer and we must have careful controls in place to keep contaminants out of the feedstock. We hope to have a risk control process in place for handling residential food waste down the road.”
It’s not ready yet, but keep those napkins at the ready. A new solution for residential food waste may be just around the corner.
In addition to being Chairman of Bright Feeds, Scott Kalb is a Democratic candidate for the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.