Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
NYS FOOD SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY CLEARINGHOUSE

On-site Pre-Processing Solutions

Pre-processing equipment is used by restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores, etc. as well as haulers and waste processors. The equipment types described below are only examples of the main types in service today. They are introduced into the food waste management chain for a variety of reasons including reducing hauling or labor costs, odors and increasing shelf life, among others.

The information below contains high level summaries of various equipment types based on our industry experience at NYSP2I, talking with industry experts and drawing from available research.  Specific pieces of equipment and/or manufacturers of that equipment are mentioned throughout this page for illustrative purposes and do not represent the only products available on the market. NYSP2I does not endorse any specific solution for managing your food waste.

The intent of this page is to provide some context about on-site technologies to enable better decision making. We also have information about in-vessel composting, anaerobic digestion, and others on their respective pages. 

We suggest asking questions of specific equipment manufacturers or representatives to provide technical details not listed online, set up a demonstration, and/or put you in touch with other equipment users. Additionally, your organics hauler and/or processor (compost or digestion facility) will have insights into what (if any) pre-processing methods would reduce your costs, and/or benefit their processing efforts. 

De-packaging Units         Pulpers and Shredders

Dehydrators          Liquefiers and Biodigesters

 

Left Column: 

De-packaging Units

As indicated in its name, de-packaging units separate packaging material (plastic, aluminum, etc.) from its contents, i.e. organic material. If packaged food is not suitable for donation, it will need to be de-packaged before the organics can be recycled. Mechanisms employed to perform this separation vary from human labor to high tech equipment. Each option comes with its own benefits and challenges, including cost, allowable packaging types, throughput, contamination rates, etc. 

Several equipment options have been summarized by Massachusetts RecyclingWorks here

Example input (left) and output of packaging and organics (right), image from Scott Equipment

Image provided by: scottequipment.com

    Back to the top

    Right Column: 
    • Cost: $$ - $$$
    • Amount/Type of Organics:
      • Better suited for larger volumes
      • Technologies/brands differ for what types of packaging/product they accept
      • Glass is challenging
      • Equipment is used with both uniform, single stream applications as well as with heterogenous, co-mingled food scraps
    • Operations:
      • Typically water and power are required
      • Some models come with automated feed features but many will require operational oversight during processing
      • Drain access might be valuable depending cleaning needs and how you plan to manage end products
      • Equipment can be very noisy
    • Space:
      • Requirements vary
      • In addition to the equipment footprint, space is also needed for: equipment loading and staging of incoming and outgoing material.
      • Unless compacted, packaging coming out of de-packaging equipment can take up a lot of space.
    • Typical Applications: 
      • Primarily transfer stations and end sites
      • To extract highly valued and/or high volumes of packaged goods where manual de-packaging is not practical
      • To reduce contamination from "dirty" (unpackaged) feedstocks 
    Left Column: 
    • Cost: $-$$
    • Amount/Type of Organics: 
      • Sizes vary
      • Often used in kitchens to process pre and post consumer food scraps
      • Some equipment will accept non-organics as well but their inclusion will limit your available options for end use
    • Operations:
      • Power and water hook ups are generally required
      • Drain access might be valuable depending cleaning needs and how you plan to manage end products
      • Large volumes of water are typically removed but still need to be managed
      • The food waste volume reduction due to water removal can help lower hauling costs
      • End product slurry still needs to be stored, handled, and disposed of as you would with raw food waste - it is not in a stable condition
    • Space:
      • Most require less space than other technologies as they are often installed in kitchens. 
    • Typical Applications:
      • Commercial kitchens
      • Where hauling or processing fees necessitate volume reduction at a generator's site
      • End product typically sent to animal feed, composting, or anareobic digestion.
    Right Column: 

    Pulpers and Shredders

    Pulping and shredding equipment are both used to physically break down food waste into a slurry. Most often, this mechnical process is coupled with dewatering one which can remove up to 90% of the slurry's water content. 

    Back to the top

    Left Column: 

    Dehydrators

    Dehydration units use mechanical techniques and thermal energy to remove moisture contained in food waste. Heat is applied to evaporate water, and most units also use mechanical means to tumble, rotate or move the material as it dries. End products are usually sent for secondary processing (e.g. composting) or used as animal feed. The most applicable end site is very dependent on the characteristics of the feedstock used. Dehydrated food waste is not typically suited for direct application as a soil amendment without additional processing.

    NYSP2I performed testing on the IVS Ecovim-66 for OWARECO, LLC. Check out the case study here.

    Dehydrated fruit as new end products

    Dehydrated food scraps for use as soil amendment, further processing in compost, etc.

    Back to the top

    Right Column: 
    • Cost: $ - $$$
    • Amount/Type of Organics:
      • Depackaged organics
      • Equipment is used with both uniform, single stream applications as well as with heterogenous, co-mingled food scraps
    • Operations:
      • Power hooks up required
      • Drain access might be valuable depending cleaning needs and how you plan to manage end products
      • Most dehydrators are set up for batch processing, typically over 8 or more hours
      • Some users complain about a burnt or cooked odor during processing
    • Space:
      • Space varies widely based on the unit's capacity (pounds to tons per cycle) and dehydration method (tray drying, drum drying, etc.). 
    • Typical Applications:
      • To reduce the volume of food scraps in order to lower hauling or tip fees 
      • To create new end products, e.g. fish food, dehydrated fruit, whey protein powder, etc.

     

    NYSP2I conducted a feasibility study for Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. and LiDestri Food & Drink to look into upcycling some of their food waste streams via dehydration. Check out the case study here

    Left Column: 
    • Cost: $-$$$
    • Amount/Type of Organics: 
      • Organics only
      • Certain food waste items may be difficult to break down in these systems (e.g. large bones).  
    • Operations:
      • Models may be set up for batch or continuous feeding
      • Power and occasionally water hook ups are required
    • Space:
      • Vary depending on the application
      • Many sizes available
    • Typical Applications:
      • Hauling inaccessible or not cost effective
      • Space or labor constrained to manage organics through other means
    Right Column: 

    Liquefiers/Biodigesters

    Unlike previously mentioned processes, food waste run through liquefiers or biodigestors will go through a biological change. Enzymes and/or microbes are used to accelerate decomposition in these systems. Some models do pump the end product to a holding for removal but these units are considered down-the-drain technologies. 

    It is important to know, before purchasing this type of technology, what the end product will look like,where it will be going, and what the local regulations/recommendations are related to disposal. For example, discharge may not fall within the allowable limits at your local municipality so you may incur an additional cost. 

    Back to the top