When it comes to creating climate-friendly solutions and developing better food systems, how we manage unused and unsellable food is a large part of the conversation. While there are lots of ideas, there aren’t as many viable solutions for recycling or upcycling expired food or food waste. In recent years, several companies have begun to address creating these solutions and putting them into practice.
One of them is Wyatt Industries, created by Luke Dynes. Wyatt Enterprises has developed and patented technology that may help take large-scale “food waste” to almost zero. Last year, Wyatt Industries recycled three million tons of food, turning it into edible feed for livestock. Yes, Luke has created a solution to one of our world’s biggest problems. Food waste isn’t just a consumer problem, it’s a production and manufacturing problem as well.
Turning Human Food Waste into Livestock Feed
In this episode, Luke and Dillon discuss how Luke created Wyatt Enterprises, what kinds of food they are recycling for livestock feed, and why the process is evolving so rapidly. The company started out by being able to recycle spoiled fruits and vegetables from cold storage. But in three short years, the company has evolved into being able to recycle packaged, shelf-stable, frozen, and fresh produce from grocery stores, cold storage facilities, and food distribution centers.
Developing Technology and Machines to Process Packaged Food and Plastic
In order to meet the demand, the company has developed patented technology in order to expand their processing operations to help meet the need to keep more food waste out of landfills. When it came to recycling packaged foods (the produce found in plastic packaging like salad kits) Luke wanted to find a piece of machinery that could separate it out, but there wasn’t anything available on the market.
Expanding Their Processing Plants
In order to do this, Luke ended up developing a machine that tears open the boxes and bags, and takes out the viable food material. In terms of volume, the technology he developed allows Wyatt Technologies to process six semi-truck loads of food waste per day. Now they are expanding their manufacturing plants in order to process more.
Given the fact that 55-70% of food waste comes from food before it’s sold in stores, the end goal is to put a processing plant in every state. As of the end of 2021, they’ll have food processing plants in Washington and Oregon, giving them the ability to process foods from Idaho and parts of Northern California as well.
Pre-Consumer Food vs. Food Waste
Believe it or not, there’s a difference between pre-consumer food and food waste. Pre-consumer food is food that is damaged or spoiled before it reaches stores. It’s not food scraps or post-consumption waste generated by people after they’ve purchased or eaten food. The definition of waste, and recycling, has created challenges for Luke. Traditional waste management services view pre-consumer food to be in the same category as post-consumer waste. The definition of food waste needs to be clearly defined or it’s going to create roadblocks in how food can be turned into viable products.
Scaling Alternative Ways to Process Unsellable Food
There are a few other companies similar to Wyatt Industries that are recycling food into livestock feed. The challenge to their success comes down to operational size, processing capability, and scalability. During a recent conference in Las Vegas, Luke found that many food industry professionals don’t believe operations like his can be commercialized and scaled to make the business model profitable. But Luke believes that the model is scalable and can be further commercialized, just look at the volumes that Wyatt Industries is already processing, they can barely keep up with the demand in creating the high-value feed.
Creating Cost-Effective, High-Value Feed
Luke also has a background in livestock nutrition, he used that knowledge to design the feeds that his company is manufacturing for livestock producers.
Would you ever have imagined that cake mixes, wheat or corn-based products consumers buy could create feed that could be more nutritionally balanced than buying corn or wheat as a one-off commodity?
While it’s not a complete ratio, it provides such a substantial offset to the nutritional requirements of multiple types of livestock (hogs and cattle) that certain producers have even switched to only using Wyatt feeds in addition to hay. Because of its digestibility and the fact it’s more cost-effective for producers, Luke sells out of their feed product on a regular basis.
Take Food Waste to Zero
In the end, creating Wyatt Industries was a business decision, but it was also about keeping viable food products out of landfills. Listen to the full episode to learn more. To learn more about Luke Dynes and Wyatt Industries, connect with him on LinkedIn.
- 1:30 – Meet Luke Dynes
- 1:47 – Creating a Company That Recycles Food Waste into Food for Livestock
- 6:18 – How The Process Works
- 8:45 – Wyatt Industries’ Processing Capacity
- 10:00 – Processing Interstate Food Waste Due to Labor Shortages
- 11:30 – The Majority of Food Waste Comes From Food Before It’s Sold in Stores
- 12:15 – The Difference Between Pre-Consumer Food vs. Food Waste
- 14:22 – How Much Food Wyatt Industries is Keeping Out of Landfills
- 15:17 – Yes, We Can Recycle Food at Scale
- 18:00 – Livestock Can Eat This and It’s Nutrient Rich
- 20:52 – The Term “Food Waste” is Misleading
- 21:33 – We Created This Company To Keep Viable Food Out Of Landfills
- 24:19 – Upcoming Subsidies in the Food Waste Sector
- 25:08 – The Ag Community Can’t Afford to Waste Anything
- 27:55 – How Food Companies Can Recycle Non-Sellable Food and Produce
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