Local company turning food waste into high grade fertilizer

MILL CREEK, Wash. -- Americans throw out a lot of food. King County residents alone throw out or compost 183,000 tons of food each and every year.

Now a Redmond company is deploying a high-tech solution at local super markets to turn food scraps into liquid fertilizer for farmers.

The Central Market in Mill Creek throws away 6,000 tons of food scraps and trimmings each year. But in February they began going high tech, turning trimmings and scraps into high grade fertilizer using something called The Harvester.

Think of the machine as a high-tech garbage disposal that can handle anything that was destined for the compost pile. The machine also records all the information about what and how much material is being disposed of.

"(The information) is getting loaded up to the cloud, and from there we do business analytics and we are able to share that back with the store," said Larry LeSueur, CEO of Wiserg, the Redmond-based company that created the machine.

Wiserg makes its money selling that information back to the store. Store owners then use that information to cut down on waste.

"It costs us less per month to process that compostable waste through the Harvester versus the alternative, which is composting," said Tony D'Onofrio, the sustainability director of Town and Country Markets.

It takes 3-5 minutes for the Harvester to break down the food into a rich organic biomass soup, which is put into tanks and taken to a Wiserg facility where it is refined and turned into liquid fertilizer.

LeSueur said his company has big plans for the machine.

"We are going to start with the groceries in our local community and we hope to extended it to restaurants in the Puget Sound area this year," he said.

There are currently four Harvesters at markets in the Puget Sound area.