Food waste to Animal Feed – A Berkeley Student Research

With staggering amounts of food waste in America entering landfills, new methods for recycling this food waste are continually arising and developing. The process of recycling food waste into use for animal feed is one with little research or real world implementations, but has promising potential as a main diversion source of food waste. While there is much more to be discovered and explored in this process of conversion, some success stories do stand as an example on how to effectively transform the food scraps from grocery stores, restaurants, and households to the nutritious animal feed on farms. As members of FEED, a food equity consulting club at Berkeley, we took a look a these programs in the Bay Area and around the country to examine what tactics should be used as a model for similar future programs.

Local efforts to convert this food waste to animal feed consist of mostly small, informal, and intermittent transitions. We were able to contact small bay area animal farms such as Leland St. Farms, to examine how they are accepting recycled scraps. This small scale-pig farm sources 90% of their pig feed from a local produce market called Andy’s, collected in a large bin and transported to the farm via tractor. The farmers that their grain purchases are minimal and their pigs are extremely healthy due to the minimal effort taken to collecting this otherwise wasted food. Devil’s Gulch Ranch, a similarly small pig farm in Marin, receives unused food from Marin Food Bank, grain from Almanac Brewery and Magnolia Brewery, and cheese from Marin Cheese Farm. All donations are left in large bins at these locations and workers drive trucks to pick them up about every other week. The farmers taking advantage of freely available recyclable food waste boast its benefits of lower costs and even better animal health. However, due to a lack of existing organization, they have only been able to achieve this through self-initiative and funding for sourcing and retrieving this food.

In looking for more established and formal food waste recycling methods, we found FoodShift. This Alameda sourced organization began a program to pick up food waste from a partnered grocery store Andronico’s and delivers to St Vincent de Paul’s to feed the hungry. Food Shift reported that “In the first three months of the program, over 44,000 lbs of food was collected, including melons, apples, oranges, lettuce, granola bars and more. Andronico’s determined that the quantity of waste in their dumpsters had declined so dramatically that the store could reduce their number of garbage and compost pick ups to three days per week, which can save them almost $27,000 each year”. While this food was not take to farms, the success of Food Shift is a strong representation of the sustainability and cost efficiency of programs that divert food waste from grocery stores.

We then looked at another food waste success, Rutgers University, to see how the school converts its own cafeteria’s food waste into animal feed. Located in New Jersey, Rutgers University has partnered its dining halls with a local farm called Pinter Farms. After each meal, Rutgers staff takes the scraps from the food into a trough in the kitchen. This trough moves both this food and also used napkins into a pulper which grinds all of the waste together and removes the excess water from the mix. This process reduces the volume of the waste, which is then taken to barrels to be taken to Pinter. Pinter Farms is closeby, less than 15 miles away from the university, and this process of recycling the university’s food waste and using it as animal feed at Rutgers has been going on for over 50 years. Every day, representatives from this farm come to Rutgers’ campus and collect around one ton of food scraps from the university’s four dining halls, feeding it to the farm’s hogs and cattle. This cuts the price of sending these food scraps to the landfill by more than one half, so not only does less food get wasted, but the university also saves a significant amount of money through this partnership.

We found all of this research to be quite useful in helping Outside2Inside form a solid plan for the conversion of food waste to animal feed. The bottom line is that there are indeed ways that we can recycle the food that we eat rather than letting it waste away, and established organizations are already implementing programs to do so. It is up to us to spread this information and start up more and more of these programs to continue to reduce food waste in an effective and efficient way by feeding it to farm animals.

– Ava and Maddie

UC Berkeley – FEED Consultants


Food Waste Conversion to Animal Feed – A Berkeley students persepctive

As a freshman studying business and music, I wasn’t sure exactly sure what to expect when I began my four years at Berkeley. Everything changed when I joined several different communities on campus: the jazz band, CAL Dragon Boat, and FEED. FEED, an undergraduate consulting club that promotes food justice and sustainability, assigned me to a project team that would be working with Outside2Inside. Our goal was to research and implement the conversion of food waste into animal feed. The first few months our work was almost entirely composed of research. Specifically, we looked into the most common farm animals and their diets, researched the legalities behind food waste, and explored the various processes that can be used to convert food waste into animal feed. While the latter topic was by far the most complex, it was also one of the most interesting subjects to research.

During our research, we discovered that treatment methods for converting food waste into animal feed can be grouped into three main categories: wet-based, dry-based, and ensiliing/fermentation. After exploring each of these categories, we came to the conclusion that dehydration and ensiling processes are the best methods for converting produce waste into animal feed because they can be used on a wide range of produce, do not lead to significant nutrient loss, preserve perishable product for long-term storage, and are low-cost options that can be performed on a smaller scale. We also found that these options are especially suitable for apples, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, and brewers grain.

However, the conversion of animal feed into food waste was especially fascinating to me because there was no clear-but best method. Each process has its pros and cons, some creating waste of their own such as plastic or wooden bales and other releasing toxic gases. For example dehydration was an effective and resourceful conversion method but it lacked the ability to convert large amounts of food waste and only accepted certain types of waste (i.e. no bones of avocado pits). On the other hand, ensiling could convert large amounts of grass crops but produced toxic gasses. Unlike dehydration whiantach could be performed overnight, ensiling has the potential to take weeks to become edible. This trade-off was fascinating in the sense that it forces each company to consider their own output of waste and potential to purchase conversion equipment.

While gaining a comprehensive understanding of these converters required time and thorough research, we had the opportunity to take on the role of consultants as we considered the advantages and disadvantages of each method and worked towards formulating suggestions grounded in accurate information.

– Collin and Haley

UC Berkeley – FEED Consultants


Food Waste Recycling through Composting and Animal Feed

Food waste is a serious problem that deserves serious attention. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans waste between 30 – 40 percent of all the food produced, at the retailer and consumer level. This is a serious issue since the food value is an estimated $161 billion. The country leads the world in the amount of food waste, and the reason is self-explanatory. Food is cheap in America, and there seems to be an inadequate desire to educate the people on the importance of food waste management. The food can be saved through composting and animal feed.

Food Recycling Through Composting

Composting is the process of decomposing organic material, where soil organisms recycle nitrogen, potash, phosphorus and other soil nutrients, and turning them into humus. Composting is a cheap and effortless method of getting rid of food waste and making it useful for other purposes.

Benefits of Composting Food Waste

  • Reduces waste
  • Reduces pressure on landfills
  • Makes compost available for the next farming seasons
  • Saves money on purchasing soil
  • Adds nutrients to the soil
  • Promotes better health for the community

How to Compost Food Waste?

Composting food waste is easy and takes very little time, depending on the system you use. There are many methods used for composting, but the worm compost and compost bin is the most common. For the worm compost just have the compost outside your home and dump the waste in it. The worms will go through it, eat it, and then leave you with rich, dark compost at the lower tray.

Pit composting is for people who are establishing new garden beds. Just place your organic kitchen waste in trenches or shallow holes and cover it with soil. The Anaerobic organisms in the soil will break down the materials within a period of about four to ten months.

The piling method of composting is one of the easiest and rewarding. They don’t need any construction. Just pile up compostable materials together and leave them in the air where they continue to decompose. You will need a pitchfork for turning. If you need quick composting, you can invest in a turning bin. The addition of a crank and pivot means they can be turned to quicken the decomposition process so that you can get useful compost within two months.

Food Recycling Through Animal Feed

For centuries, animals have been fed leftover food. Even when we were kids, we used to put our unfinished meal under the table, hoping that the dog or cat will eat it. Food recycling through animal feed offers one of the best ways to deal with the scourge of food wastage around the world.

Benefits of Food Recycling Through Animal Feed

  • Reduced pressure on landfills
  • Cattle farmers save money from buying animal feed
  • Reduce methane emissions from fruits & vegetables to lower carbon footprints
  • Good for the economy

How to recycle food waste into animal feed?

Feeding the animals directly is a simple and easy method. People can donate their kitchen and plate leftover to farmers, who will, in turn, use it to feed the animals. Those who keep animals can use part of the food to feed them. Swine do well in this, as they are omnivorous animals who would eat anything.

However, many experts are of the opinion that feeding animals directly may lead to health issues. This can easily be handled by ensuring the process of getting the food to the animals is controlled. The United States Environmental Protection Agency encourages anyone who wants to take part in recycling food waste for animal feed to contact their local solid waste, public health agency, or county agricultural extension agency for information. You’ll also have to determine what types of food you want to provide and how often you’re going to provide it.

Food waste might be a serious problem for the modern world, but with determination, we can overcome it. What is needed is proper education and commitment by every member of the community to be responsible and take action.