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Food Waste to Water

15 October 2010

Midlands based catering design and installation firm, Procaterserv, are helping to lead the food waste revolution with an eco friendly food waste management facility called GohBio. Lee Shelton explains why investing in this technology is a wise move for caterers

FOR MANY YEARS the process of food waste management usually involved transporting huge containers of wastage to landfill sites, which was a costly and time consuming process. However the catering industry can now turn to a pioneering new waste management system, GohBio.
The waste management facility, supplied by Mechline Developments, of Milton Keynes, is being distributed by only a handful of people across the UK, including kitchen and catering design firm Procaterserv. Explains Lee Shelton, Sales Director of Procaterserv, “One of the most common problems we are asked to solve is the issue of food waste management. Caterers are fed up with their food waste containers filling up and resulting in a crowded, unhygienic atmosphere.
Coupled with that is the fact they then have to transport the food waste to landfill sites which is costly and time consuming. When Ian Blakeman at Mechline introduced me to GohBio, I instantly realised this was an effective solution to the food wastage problem. GohBio ticked all the boxes - it is eco friendly, hygienic and cost effective.”
GohBio is not a composter, and does not rely on composting to decompose food waste. It is essentially a high speed, high volume system which uses naturally occurring microorganisms to digest food. Once the waste has been added to the facility, the micro-organisms reduce the food waste to grey water in 24 hours. The end product is a non-toxic liquid which is safe for drains and sewage systems, which is then put back into the ecosystem.
One food outlet impressed with the GohBio technology is Loughborough University’s catering department. It previously dealt with its food waste by using two ‘in-vessel’ composters, but found the management of this to be too labour intensive. ‘Invessel’ composters take about 14 days to start producing compost and wood matter has to be added to get the right intensity, so the whole process was proving to be an  inconvenience.
It was looking to replace these composters with a centralised waste solution whilst utilising their current collection methods. The GohBio unit fitted in very well with these requirements.
According to Nik Hunt, Operations Manager at Loughborough University, “Loughborough University with just over 12,000 students, has a strong catered hall of residence infrastructure serving over 50,000 meals per week and therefore food waste has been an ongoing problem for some time. We had been working with ‘in-vessel’ composters but found that they were struggling to handle the volumes of food waste we were producing despite our best efforts to reduce the waste volumes. They were also proving time consuming to manage.
We reassessed the technology available on the market and came across GohBio which we have every confidence will meet our volume requirements without the same time
management issues.”
GohBio was designed for commercial catering outlets due to its ability to dispose of large amounts of food waste. The facility is able to break down up to 680 kilograms of organic materials including cooked and raw meats, fish and vegetables, noodles, bread, rice and all kinds of fruit. The only elements that cannot be broken down by the GohBio are animal bones, raw dough, large fruit stones and all inorganic materials. Also, heavily fibrous waste should be avoided, like pineapple tops, coconut husks, and the like.
“GohBio is set to become such an essential part of all commercial catering facilities due to the many benefits it can provide” Shelton explained. “Not only does it solve the aforementioned problems discovered by caterers, it is also one of the most hygienic and eco friendly food waste management facilities available.
GohBio is installed within the catering facility and takes up minimal room. This eliminates the need for extra waste storage costs such as waste disposal units, de-watering systems, storage equipment/containerisations, transportation equipment, refrigerated storage facilities, etc. One of the most costly elements of food waste management for a catering outlet is the transportation costs involved when taking waste to landfill sites requiring waste collection vehicles to transport the food waste, adding to road traffic and pollution.
Food waste management should maintain a good standard of hygiene in the kitchen but those systems involving waste being left in open containers can not only cause germs to
spread and cross contamination to occur. “In some cases the food waste containers that are left outside can attract vermin, which of course is potentially fatal for a catering outlet” added Shelton.
Centralised unit
Developers of GohBio decided eliminating these risks was a priority when designing the facility – hence the idea of a centralised waste storage unit which can be installed in a safe area of the kitchen where waste does not have to be transported through sensitive areas when being disposed of.
Using GohBio will make caterers more willing to engage in recycling, rather than treating all waste as the same. Many recyclable items such as plastic, paper and packaging cannot be broken down by GohBio, so caterers are being encouraged to recycle these items, as they have already taken the time to separate them from the food waste. The waste liquid from the GohBio process is simply drained to the foul water drains and is managed by the existing wastewater treatment plants in the area.
Lee Shelton concluded “Investing in GohBio isn’t initially the cheapest option, with prices up to £37,500 for the 680Kg model. However with the savings in money, time and space, the facility can pay for itself and research has shown that this can be achieved under two years.
With so much attention being focused on the environment, hygiene and the need to save money, GohBio is set to lead to the revolution in commercial catering food waste
● Lee Shelton is Sales Director of Procaterserv

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