Several startups in the greater New York City area are working to reduce the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills. Rise Products, a Brooklyn-based startup, is converting leftover malted barley from beer brewing into low-carb flour.
More established companies like Eataly USA and Baldor Specialty Foods are also working to find creative solutions for their organic waste. Elizabeth Meltz, director of environmental health at Eataly USA, is working with several food-tracking startups to gain a better understanding of where the food they sell is going.
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Rise can produce only about 80 pounds of flour a day at its temporary quarters in Queens. But with sustainably produced food in high demand, Jimenez is scaling up. She has orders for 4,500 pounds of flour, thanks to two large food manufacturers, one of which wants 1,500 pounds every month. “We’re currently fundraising,” she said. “With our own facility, we could do a couple of tons a week.”
Loliware’s founders say they have created the first edible disposable cup, and they are working to make organics composting more efficient. Fashioned from a seaweed blend, their products are “hypercompostable,” meaning they decompose at the same rate as food, unlike biodegradable disposables made from polylactic acid, which break down slowly and are rejected by many composters. The newest Loliware product, an edible straw, is far more earth-friendly than the plastic kind, which is not only a ubiquitous source of litter but also contaminates organic-waste streams. While the cups wholesale for $1.50 each and are marketed for parties and events, the straws could capture market share from paper straws, which cost 2 to 4 cents apiece. “We’re cost-competitive enough” to compete with other plastic alternatives, said Leigh Ann Tucker, who founded Loliware with her Parsons School of Design classmate Chelsea Briganti in 2014. “We’re talking with a lot of really big partners now that want to replace plastic at scale. The goal is to partner with two or three of them in 2018.”