IoT Enables Smart, Sustainable Food Waste Management Solution

A technology-based waste disposal machine uses IoT technologies and natural breakdown processes to reduce and prevent food waste with the goal of creating a zero-landfill environment.

 

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Image credit: BioHiTech Global

Trash is big business. Americans discard about 140 million tons of waste every year, and nearly 22 percent of that is food waste, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. In the US, more than one-third of all available food is uneaten due to loss or waste. Wasted food saps resources—all the time, energy, and money incurred to bring that food from its origin to the trash can is lost as well.

Chestnut Ridge, NY-based BioHiTech Global is working to combat that. The company uses technology to drive sustainable alternatives to waste disposal with the goal of eliminating the need for landfills. BioHiTech’s Revolution series of “food digester” machines convert food waste into wastewater through the biological process of aerobic digestion; the resulting grey water liquid and remaining sludge are drained into sewer lines and processed in a wastewater treatment facility. 

The solution could be a useful addition in any commercial kitchen, such as those in schools, hospitals, assisted living centers, and restaurants or in municipal waste centers or grocery stores. 

Watch Your Waste

More than simply digesting meal scraps, the Revolution machines use data analytics to allow large food distributors to monitor their food waste. The Revolution works with an IoT gateway and a cloud-based reporting system to provide detailed information about what goes into its mechanical belly.

An IoT gateway from OnLogic collects machine monitoring data, including temperature, water usage, and food weight. The OnLogic CL210 devices, based on the Intel® Pentium® N4200 or Intel® Celeron® N3350 processors, provide edge computing power and connectivity in a ruggedized, small form factor that can function reliably regardless of where the Revolution digester is deployed—in an industrial kitchen or on a cruise ship, for example. The CL210 device has a hard outer shell, fanless design, and dual Ethernet ports, which has reduced a common point of failure in BioHiTech’s previous set-up.

The OnLogic gateway also sends telemetry data from the machine’s sensors to various BioHiTech applications hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud. Trillions of data points from the digesters are processed and shared across BioHiTech’s cloud-based databases, which use machine learning to predict changes in food waste. It also provides data about the equipment, enabling the BioHiTech team to provide real-time support if needed. 

The OnLogic gateway handles the edge compute functions to reduce the size of the data files that are transmitted to and from the AWS servers. BioHiTech doesn’t maintain servers or data centers; all data is available via AWS and is accessible from any computer, tablet, or smart phone via a Web browser.

Waste Not, Want Not

With cloud-based access to AWS, users can remotely monitor and analyze their food waste from anywhere. The BioHiTech dashboard displays utilization metrics, environmental diversion metrics, and cost savings data. Customers can view food waste data for each individual machine or across multiple machines in a deployment. Dashboards and reports can be customized to ensure compliance with environmental, health, and corporate regulations.

Of course, the best way to reduce food waste is not to have any. The dashboard also displays detailed metrics on the type and volume of waste each machine processes, data that can also be viewed on the BioHiTech Cirrus app for smart phones. That data can inform supply chain decisions and circumvent unnecessary food waste by simply not having too much unused food on hand. For example, if the Revolution is processing a lot of bread, the kitchen can make fewer rolls. That saves time and resources on the front end, further reducing waste and increasing savings.