“Pies, chips, fish” – new CT factory converting everything into animal feed

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While President Biden pledged this week to limit methane emissions in the U.S. energy sector, Connecticut’s largest plant is now operational and will operate another culprit – food scraps and other organic waste.

At full capacity, Bright Feeds’ new factory in Berlin is designed to process up to 450 tonnes of food waste per day into animal feed. This will be 90 tons more per day than the announced capacity of the Quantum BioPower plant in Southington, which converts food waste into electricity through the process of anaerobic digestion.

Together, the two facilities will be able to handle about half of Connecticut’s capacity to divert food from incinerators feeding ash landfills. Connecticut’s waste-to-ash waste system does not include landfills where food could release methane into the atmosphere through the rotting process, but with the closure of the Hartford Incineration Plant, part of this waste is trucked to landfills in other states.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet food as a better diversion for food than anaerobic digestion or composting, following only the reuse of leftover food for human consumption – or of course, preventing food waste to begin with. .

In a 2015 study, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection estimated that 22% of the waste produced in Connecticut at that time was in the form of food and organic matter.

“This is an economic and environmental issue,” said Scott Kalb, president of Bright Feeds, who is attending the Greenwich Town Representatives meeting. “The established industries are waste-to-energy and composting, so that’s where most of the talk has been, but we said that’s something that really needs to pick up the slack.”

Bright Feeds negotiates with entities that generate large amounts of food waste, with Kalb saying it charges significantly less on collection fees than standard haulage companies, adding that there are scenarios where the company would pay for high quality food scraps. The company also promises 24-hour “emergency” pickup for customers as needed.

“In the factory you will see 50 tonnes of potatoes in bags that the guys have dropped off,” Kalb said. “Pies, crisps, fish, it’s amazing.”

Because the company begins the process when the food waste arrives, Kalb said odors are kept to a minimum in the facility.

As with Quantum BioPower, Bright Feeds is planning a de-packaging line in Berlin that will recycle all eligible materials such as bags and containers.

Kalb co-founded Bright Feeds with CEO Jonathan Fife, who previously worked for a private equity investment firm in New York that focuses on healthcare companies, Scott Kalb, a Greenwich financier and member of the Representative Town Meeting who chairs the company’s board of directors; and Tim Rassias, who is chief operating officer.

Bright Feeds plans to employ up to 45 people at full capacity, with the potential for more as it plans to add more facilities in the area. Rassias said the Berlin site has requested access to both Interstate 91 and I-84, but the company is willing to go statewide for food waste.

As well as redirecting food waste into food – chicken, pig and cow feed – Rassias said the animal feed model was attractive because of the relatively smaller footprint needed to run a production plant. Food for animals. He said the company was seeking patent protection on a food drying technology used in the production process.

“We have high-end technology that we can calibrate and get a lot of the main feed ingredients that every feed mill or farm wants,” Rassias said. “We have some where we have a base and they can add something to it; we have others who we sell our products to and like them the way they are.”

Last year, a Bedminster, NJ company called Do Good Foods raised $169 million to support a Pennsylvania facility that collects food scraps for conversion into chicken feed, and to build a new plant in Selma, NC Unlike Bright Feeds, Do Good Foods focuses on producing its own brand of chicken under a “closed-loop” business model, rather than selling the feed to other farmers.

To date, Bright Foods has raised supporting investments — the company is not yet disclosing the amount — and has had discussions with Connecticut officials about any possible funding streams.

Bright Feeds spent $1.4 million in September 2021 to acquire its Fuller Way building in Berlin, formerly the home of Premier Limousine which was sold to Berlin-based Elite Limousine in 2020 after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic .

The Bright Feeds team built a new structure in its place with the necessary ceiling heights to accommodate the hopper trucks and aerial machinery.

Includes earlier reports by Luther Turmelle.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; @casoulman

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