In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with John Hanselman, CEO of Vanguard Renewables, which combines food-based organic waste and farm manure for the environmentally sustainable production of renewable energy and other valuable byproducts.
We spoke with him about the power of partnerships, education and more.
Waste360: You’ve said that you started as an energy company and then realized that supporting the American farm had become a driving force for your company. Can you elaborate?
John Hanselman: Yes, we thought we were a renewable energy business that happened to recycle food waste as our fuel, on farms—and we were 100 percent wrong. We’re actually a food waste recycling business that is 100 percent farm based, and we happen to make renewable energy as a byproduct.
Waste360: Can any type of farm do this, or are there limitations?
John Hanselman: The way the system works is that we have these neat little microbes that eat the food waste and emit methane—the renewable natural gas. To keep that population happy and stable, there’s a core amount of manure that we like to have in the digester. It gets easier and easier the bigger the farm is.
Waste360: Do you think farm-based anaerobic digestion is ready to scale right now?
John Hanselman: Definitely. It’s a very integrated process that requires a lot of logistics, partnerships and education. But we’ve learned a lot and made modifications along the way, and it’s certainly scalable.