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Divert, a Massachusetts-based food waste reduction company is taking the farm-to-table concept one step further by transforming wasted food into renewable energy. With the help of anaerobic digesters, Divert captures methane from discarded food and converts it into low-carbon natural gas that can be used to meet energy demands. The company provides retail food waste solutions that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Wasted food is a complex issue with different problems arising at each stage of the value chain. As food gets closer to the consumer, its energy and resource footprint grows, and wasted food in landfills produces methane, which has an even greater greenhouse gas footprint. In the United States, food waste accounts for 8%–10% of greenhouse gas emissions and 100 million tons per year. Divert’s innovative solution to this problem is the use of anaerobic digesters, which have long been used to convert waste into energy at large animal production plants. Now, Divert is making this option available to small dairy enterprises and retail-level trash.

Divert’s success has attracted the attention of Enbridge Inc., a leading energy infrastructure company. On March 1, 2023, Divert and Enbridge signed a $1 billion infrastructure development deal to boost Divert’s anaerobic digestion capacity by 10-fold. The additional facilities could offset 400,000 metric tons of CO2 and reach 80% of the US population within 8 years. With the additional funding, Divert plans to expand its operations and reduce food waste on a larger scale.

Divert’s process begins by contracting with national or regional retailers to reduce food waste. They use “reverse logistics” to manage the store-by-store trash flow, collecting and returning containers of discarded food from each store. Using effective “depackaging” methods, they remove food from containers and recycle the containers. They also acquire data using IOT tracking, which allows them to characterize and quantify each store’s waste stream. This data helps retail parent firms detect store-level faults or anomalies that could reduce waste through inventory management or cold storage room temperature adjustments.

Divert’s contracts ensure a win-win if waste is eliminated. Reducing food waste improves grocers’ bottom lines, maximizes food value, and lowers Divert’s operational costs. Divert customers can use the generated energy through interconnection or offtake agreements. One of the largest offtake deals for electricity from wasted food was inked between bp and Divert for $175 million over 10 years.

Our call to action is for consumers to reduce food waste by being mindful of their purchases and using what they buy. Small actions, such as meal planning and creating a grocery list, can make a big impact. By reducing food waste, we can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and Support innovative companies like Divert in their mission to create a sustainable future.

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