“Invariably as a society we often find we have a propensity to waste. So, we are not really compelled to fully utilize the food in our possession. So, we don’t really think about the consequences associated with eliminating that food and not consuming it,” said Thomas McQuillan, sustainability director for Baldor Specialty Foods.
But, he added, “I would argue that food should never be wasted and to the greatest extent possible, it should be consumed by humans.”
And this is exactly what McQuillan is trying to make happen through Baldor’s food waste reduction program, which “we affectionately call … sparcs,” or scraps spelled backwards, he said.
“Sparcs basically talks about any food item outside the production that would have maybe in the past been wasted, but we like to make sure it gets put to use now. So, it is not going to a landfill or anaerobic digestion. Rather, all of this food product is being consumed by either animals or human beings,” he said.
“In fact,” he proudly added, “in November 2016, as a company, we can say we are officially zero organics to landfill from our food production.”
The company achieved this by saving food scraps, such as carrot ribbons, tops and tips, and selling them to chefs who process them into soups or baked goods. In addition, the company sells 900 pound bins of mixed produce scraps to pig and poultry farmers near its facilities.
The company also sells its sparcs to manufacturers, such as Misfit Juicery, which uses carrot ribbons from Baldor to make its 24 Carrot Gold juice, McQuillan said.
Saving and selling scraps also makes financial sense for both Baldor and its partners. McQuillan explains that it costs about 8 to 12 cents per pound to haul away the scraps for disposal, but those same scraps can be sold for 30 to 60 cents depending on if it was further processed or not.
“So, if we add 30 cents to that 12 cents, now you are at 42 cents a pound for a product that you were otherwise wasting. The financials are easy! You can glean a lot of value. You can also feed people with this food product. Why wouldn’t we choose to do that?” he said.
Even though Baldor has found a way to use all its organic scraps, McQuillan isn’t stopping there. He explained the company is considering ways to dry the sparcs to extend their shelf life and to create other finished products that consumers could buy and use at home.