Hotels Cut Food Waste Using Decomposition Machines

Hotels Cut Food Waste Using Decomposition Machines

At least four companies in the United States are making it easy for hotels to dramatically reduce food waste volume by up to 90 percent.

The decomposition machines they make, which are available in different sizes, can significantly reduce waste hauling costs and the volume of waste typically sent to the landfill.

For the environment, there are additional benefits because fewer trucks have to roll and less waste sits in the landfill producing methane -- a greenhouse gas. Food waste decomposition machines can be pricey but when used regularly can pay for themselves in three to five years. Lease options are also available.

Each manufacturer offers its own unique product but there are two types of machines to consider. The first type, distributed by Lancaster, Pa.-based Somat Co., relies on 180-degree heat, agitation (mixing) and natural composting to reduce food waste volume. No enzymes, microorganisms or additives are used in the treatment process. No water lines are necessary to add water to the waste mix. A condensate drain allows a small amount of clean water to leave the system.

"It is the only system that does not require enzymes or fresh water," said Lin Sensenig, general manager at Somat Co.

Available in Different Sizes

Somat manufactures its eCorect systems in different sizes. The smallest system can handle up to 100 pounds a cycle; the largest system can manage 2,000 pounds a cycle. In less than a day, processing removes about 90 percent of the food waste's weight and volume. What is left is a dry product that can be added to soil. All eCorect systems include an odor control system that allows placement of the machines close to the source of the waste.

Green Key Environmental Solutions' decomposition machine. Green Key Environmental Solutions' decomposition machine. The Marriott South Bay in Torrance, Calif., has been using an eCorect system from Somat for six months.

Silvano Merlo, assistant general manager at the property, said that instead of having to throw away 220 pounds of food waste at the end of the day, his staff throws away just 22 pounds.

Merlo and his team throw in all types of food items including meat and even small amounts of cardboard and paper. Fish-size bones can be composted but larger beef bones are not affected by the machine. Merlo says the system has helped make his staff more conscious about what is thrown away.

"It is good for the environment and gets everyone involved," says Merlo, who adds that the only maintenance concern is to clean a filter every other day.

Alternative to Somat's Technology

The second type of machine, like those sold by BioHitech America Inc., Montvale, N.J., use a highly refined formula of micro-organisms to break down organic waste into a liquid which can then be safely disposed of down the drain, completely eliminating the waste. The machines require a hot and cold water supply and a two-inch drain to connect to the machine. The drain pipe from the machine drains into

the floor sink. Like those sold by Somat, the machines run on 220-volt power and come in different sizes.

The Seaport Hotel in Boston has been using a BioX machine from BioHitech America since April 2007. It was purchased from Action Comax Environmental Inc., Newark, N.J., which sells the BioX. It can process up to 800 pounds in 24 hours.

According to Matthew Moore, director of rooms and environmental programs at the Seaport, the hotel has been processing just shy of 300 pounds of food waste a day. That number had been larger, but training in how not to waste earlier in the waste stream has helped reduce overall waste flow to the machine.

The Seaport's BioX machine sits on a scale to help staff gauge how much food waste they have inserted. A warning light system has been set up to prevent too much waste from being added.

Moore says that thanks to the machine and other recycling efforts, the hotel has gone from nine Dumpster pickups a month to just four. The bin area is much cleaner now; Moore says the industrial strength air fresheners on the wall are no longer needed. The Seaport Hotel is leasing the system over five years, while maintaining the option to purchase it. "It is an excellent addition to our recycling program," he says.

Atlanta Hotel Has Similar Success

Waste to Water Environmental, LLC's decomposition machine. Waste to Water Environmental, LLC's decomposition machine. At the Emory Conference Center Hotel (ECCH) in Atlanta, a BIO-EZ system from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Waste to Water Environmental LLC is used. Like the BioX machine, it uses microorganisms to break down the food waste in water and then disposes of the fluid into the sewage system.

Michael Klein, executive chef at the hotel, says the BIO-EZ system they use has a chopper integrated with it to help break up bones, corn cobs, shells and pits before they enter the machine. He adds that efforts are under way to develop a way to recapture the water leaving the machine for reuse within it.

The Emory Conference Center Hotel's machine was installed just two months ago and has the capacity to handle 1,500 pounds in 24 hours. It is currently handling about 400 to 600 pounds of food waste daily. The hotel is leasing its machine.

"Our composting Dumpster used to have to be pulled three times a month, but that is now down to just once a month," Klein says, adding that other recycling efforts have also helped.

In addition to the companies mentioned above, Green Key Environmental Solutions, Hollywood, Fla., produces machines similar to those made by BioHitech America and Waste to Water Environmental.

Green Key's GK 1000-5000 Bio Machines biologically decompose food waste through a process that results in all solid waste being converted to liquid. A computer-controlled device systematically adds water to promote decomposition which results in complete liquefaction, which can be disposed of down any drain system, whether municipal or septic.
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Glenn Hasek can be reached at [email protected]. Green Lodging News is based in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.