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Huge digester turns food waste into fertilizer

Words by Smiley Team

In the heart of the Bronx, one of the last things to come to mind is gardening, planting, and fertilizer. It’s the concrete jungle – and beyond Central Park – much of New York City is defined by its urbanization. 

Harp Renewables is looking to offer a different perspective, and while at it, help cut down on food waste. 

In the United States, food waste accounts for 30% of the mass of collected trash according to the EPA, and Harp Renewable’s new project, The Peninsula, is looking to offer a way to cut into that. 

The Peninsula is a new affordable housing project in the Bronx that has one feature that sets it apart from most other housing projects. At the center of the project sits a giant aerobic digester that can turn 1,100 pounds of food scraps into 220 pounds of high-quality fertilizer every single day.

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The project, organized by Gilbane Development Company, will have 740 units of 100% affordable housing intended for students, seniors, and everyone in between. The development will also have industrial and commercial space for rent, offering options for businesses. 

All of the tenants will be feeding into the aerobic digester. 

Clare Miflin, the founder of the Center for Zero Waste Design, was brought in to advise on the project. 

“There are a lot of solutions that have to fit together,” Miflin told Fast Company. “This is a great one because it allows a building manager to deal with food waste immediately, it reduces rats and odor because they can put waste in every day, and it reduces trucking.”

She hopes this technology will become commonplace in apartments and housing developments to cut down on food waste. A few side effects of the building will be a reduction in rat infestations making their way in to find food waste, as well as more reliable fertilizer for the Bronx community garden.

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: Mercy Housing is a national nonprofit and one of the nation's largest affordable housing organizations. Find out how you can support them

GET INVOLVED: Zero Waste Design Online is a not for profit international collective that delivers online educational resources in the field of zero waste. Find out about their volunteering opportunities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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