Glass bottles in a bag

Innovation in Waste Management - Why Does it Matter?

What purpose does waste serve? Think about it. Waste is something that is not wanted or needed and holds no economic value, so we dispose of it. Did you know though, that companies have been doing the exact same thing only from a differing perspective? In actuality, companies have been getting rid of (really, eliminating) waste from their supply chains, manufacturing processes, and business models for decades. The difference is that now companies and consumers are beginning to adopt a similar definition of “waste” and both groups are looking for ways to not produce that waste in the first place.

What’s this common definition of waste? Well, essentially it means some action or result that doesn't contribute to bottom-line, and companies generally call this elimination exercise “lean”. On the other hand, consumers are eliminating waste but calling it the zero-waste. What’s interesting is that both groups are essentially perusing the same goal, just under different terms. Meaning that the term “waste” is now being applied to:

  • Excess packaging from their products
  • Scrape not ultimately sold off
  • Or unneeded labeling

Some brands are even going as far as to build partnerships with other companies to provide them with feedstocks that come from their partner’s “waste”. Effectively turning one company’s scrap into their partner’s raw material. -whereby both brands profit.

In a similar fashion, consumers are beginning to remove things from their lives that can’t be reused or sold back to someone else at a similar cost-effective price. Meaning that more consumers are buying products that are rented rather than sold outright. So, in every way, shape, and form brands and consumers are becoming far more aggressive and thoughtful, not just in how they design products, and how they use products, but how they design reuse into their products to maximize the value return of everything that is in their possession.

How Does Municipal Waste Fit into Zero-Waste?

Within the last 15 years, the ideology of “zero waste” has gained traction. American’s and city officials are doing their part to reduce waste and keep garbage out of landfills.

You might be wondering what will happen to municipal waste when lean and zero-waste principals influence the amount of garbage being produced. The answer it that the waste management industry is likely going to transform into a resource management industry. Meaning waste managers will be more focused on harvesting value from municipal waste and brokering partnerships with manufactures to resell the raw materials they process.

How The BurCell® System Contributes to Sustainability

At BurCell® Technologies, we strive to reclaim value from municipal waste. We do this with our BurCell® system, which processes municipal waste into feedstocks for compost, anerobic digestion processors, and recyclers.

We love what we do because we provide another alternative for waste disposal, which just so happens to also enable our partners to produce products at a higher margin or it gives them another profit center that we’d consider future-proof.

What Happens to Waste In The BurCell® System?

Waste is first brought to our facility or a BurCell® enabled site. Our tools then separate any large and bulky items that could interrupt the process or harm the system.

After the separation takes place, the materials are then moved onto a shredder. The shredding process is intended to increase the surface area of the material and the amount the system can process in one batch. Once the material is shredded, and the capacity is bulked up, it’s then ready to load into the BurCell® System.

Once the system is full and ready to go, one of our team members adds water and heat, and draws a vacuum to begin the operating cycle. At this point, the BurCell® System will continue to rotate to break down organic waste at a quick pace.

Once the waste is broken down, the material is loaded onto another conveyer where the inorganic components, including metal, glass, and plastic, are separated from the organic biproducts for the anaerobic digestor or composter.

Are You A Good Fit to Use Our Tech?

Well it depends. Our partners are typically waste haulers or waste managers who are looking to innovate and while adding a new revenue stream to their business model. Some of them have tried recycling efforts in the past and not found it successful, but while working with our team they find that the transformation process is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time to setup. They also find that the BurCell® System’s outputs are easily resold to partners which we can help you find via our partner network. Lastly, they find that our pilots or proofs of concept (POC) are affordable and the capital needed to complete a POC is manageable.

So, while there are barriers to becoming a client and joining our partner program, we’ll have an account partner assigned to you to help ensure the journey together is smooth, productive and profitable for your business.

Next Steps? The BurCell® System

If you found this article or it’s ideas interesting, or would like to learn more about our partner program or how you can get involved, be sure to contact us via the contact form on our site or reach out to us on LinkedIn. We’ll be happy to answer your questions, visit your facility to help you plan for the inevitability of lean and zero-waste, and help you design a proof of concept to use the BurCell® System.

It’s time we put our waste to a greater use.

Again, to learn more about our system and how it works, or to schedule a demo, check out our latest blogs or contact our team today! Together we can make a difference.

Landfill by a river

Organic Recycling: Turning Food Waste Into Energy

What if I told you it was possible that a portion of the world’s food waste could avoid ending up in landfills and instead be converted into energy to provide electricity to our homes? Nearly one-third of all food, both raw and prepared, is thrown away and turns into waste. However, most food waste can be converted into a valuable resource used to generate energy.

If we took just a small portion of the world’s waste and turned it into energy, we could free up large amounts of space in landfills while generating fuel for cars and energy for homes. Converting the waste also reduces the number of harmful gases being released into the atmosphere and makes the world a healthier place overall.

How Energy Has Become A Limited Resource

With the rapid population growth across the globe, limited amounts of fossil fuels have quickly begun to diminish, and it has become challenging to provide the amount of energy demanded by the world using only fossil fuels to create energy.

Energy is also a fundamental resource. Without energy, the world would be left without necessities like power in our homes which provides light, heating, and air conditioning, cooking resources, and hot water. Today, much of the world relies on fossil fuels for energy. However, several ways exist to convert organics into energy without fossil fuels. That’s what we’re here today to discuss.

How Waste Could Be Turned Into Energy

How much organic waste is there today? In fact, nearly 133 billion pounds of food each year go to waste in the United States alone, and this material could be reused if properly recycled through a process sometimes called a waste-to-energy system.

Waste-to-energy systems, enabled by the BurCell® System technology, leverage a process called anaerobic digestion, which is where microorganisms are used to break down and convert organic waste into a fuel such as biogas, biodiesel, or ethanol. The final product is then used for generating electricity or fuel for vehicles.

The great thing about using biogases, and other fuels that come from anaerobic digestion, is that it's largely carbon-neutral because the materials that created the fuels weren't pulled out of long-term carbon sequestration like what we see in the use of natural gas or coal. They were instead pulled out of the carbon cycle after just a few months or years because the raw materials came from plants or other food waste. So, while anaerobic digestion does produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas, the same carbon in the methane came from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere a only few months prior.

Introducing The BurCell® Unit

The BurCell® System is a vacuum aided thermal decomposition process that reuses food, paper, and many other types of organic waste products at scale.

It offers a disruptive industrial process for the separation, value extraction, and value enhancement of organic source material created through numerous industrial, commercial, and agricultural activities.

The BurCell® System and How it Works in the Anaerobic Digestion Process

First, waste is brought to our facility. Our tools then separate any large and bulky items that might interrupt the process or damage the system.

After the separation in our facility, the materials are diverted to a shredder. The shredding process helps increase the volume of the material and the amount we can process in a single batch. Once the material is shredded and the capacity is significantly increased, it is then ready for loading into the BurCell® system.

Note: The BurCell® System has the capacity to process nearly 10 tons of waste per cycle.

After loading, a team member adds water, heat, and draws a vacuum to start the operating cycle. During this stage, the BurCell® system will use a continuously rotating drum to break down the organic waste much faster than otherwise possible.

Once broken down, the waste material is loaded onto a conveyer where the inorganic components (like metal, glass, and plastic) and organic components are separated and the organic byproducts are readied for the anaerobic digestor.

How Anaerobic Digestion Works

Anaerobic digestion is the process of using microorganisms to break down biodegradable waste without oxygen. The types of organic waste which can be used in anaerobic digestion can be found throughout our economy, but some examples of high producers include; coffee shops, restaurants, and other places where food scraps or waste are present.

Here is the process:

Step 1: The food waste, biosolids, and manure are collected from various sources and gathered together for processing.

Step 2: The organic waste is then deposited into the organic waste handling system where it stores and pretreats the material prior to further processing by heating it to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour to kill any harmful pathogens.

Step 3: The organic waste then travels into the anaerobic digester - a system that allows anaerobic digestion to occur and captures the biogases as they’re made. This system will typically have an agitator and will work to evenly distribute microorganisms throughout the tank.

Step 4: The digestion process can take between 20-30 days to complete and once done the biogas (comprised of 60% methane) is burned to produce electricity.

Step 5: The organic waste is then processed further to convert the remaining material into several co-products that can either be solid (compost, soil, fertilizer) or liquid coproducts (fertilizer, flush waster, concentrated fertilizer).

The BurCell® System: Keeping Organic Waste Out of Landfills

The BurCell® System was created with the intent of keeping all organic waste out of landfills, preventing the release of harmful gasses into our environment, putting organic waste to greater use, and helping create an alternative source to fuel our lives.

Organic waste is a valuable resource oftentimes overlooked and can become a missed opportunity. So with the use of The BurCell® System, we’re changing the world for the better.

To learn more about our system and how it works, check out our latest blogs or contact our team today!

Large outdoor tanks

How Anaerobic Digestion and the BurCell® System Work Together

Anaerobic digestion. Despite its futuristic-sounding name, it’s an alternative waste conversion process with its basic science having been around for centuries. The first recorded usage dates back to England in 1895. Now, as businesses continue to seek ways of reducing their carbon footprints and contributing to the goal of clean energy, anaerobic digestion is continuing to advance into the spotlight as a potential solution to waste management.

What Is Anaerobic Digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is a natural biological process where microorganisms, or bacteria, break down biodegradable organic matter like sewage sludge, food scraps, and manure. The digestion of the waste takes place in an airtight container without the presence of oxygen. The name anaerobic means “without air.” As the bacteria get to work, it produces a methane and carbon dioxide-rich gas called biogas. The physical byproduct of this bacteria buffet is a wet mixture called digestate that gets separated into solid and liquid. Although humans are responsible for creating this chemical reaction, it’s a process that happens naturally in the environment. Examples of natural occurrences of anaerobic digestion include swamps and in the stomach.

Both byproducts are something to get excited about. In its purest form, the biogas produced can be used for cooking, powering engines, and heating furnaces, as a chemical feedstock, or to generate electricity. When it’s treated and compressed, biogas can be upgraded to renewable natural gas, used as a renewable fuel source for vehicles. As for digestate, it can be used as an industrial co-product, as a nutrient-rich fertilizer, compost, animal bedding, and soil amendment.

Many believe it’s one of the many ways that we can reduce our carbon footprints, combat climate change, and find replacement energy sources to the dwindling resources we currently have.

How Does Anaerobic Digestion Work?

The process begins when waste, also referred to as feedstock, is loaded into an airtight container called an anaerobic digester. Once inside, the feedstock undergoes four different stages of being broken down through chemical reaction before reaching its final form as raw material that’s able to be used in many ways.

The first stage is called Hydrolysis. Here, complex matter like carbohydrates and proteins gets broken down into sugars and amino acids. Next up is the acidogenesis stage. Bacteria break down sugars and amino acids even further, reducing them into ethanol and fatty acids, as well as creating the byproducts like ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. When the feedstock reaches acetogenesis, the third stage, the ethanol, and fatty acids are converted into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and acetic acid. And in the final stage of anaerobic digestion, called methanogenesis, the bacteria convert the leftover hydrogen and acetic acid into the methane and carbon dioxide-rich biogas.

The timeline for digestion depends on factors such as how much waste is loaded into the digester, if more than one kind of matter is present (this process is called co-digestion), and the temperature inside of the digester. With all these factors considered, complete digestion can take between 14 to 40 days. And after its total breakdown, the biogas is collected, treated, and sent off to be used as renewable energy.

What Are the Benefits of Using Anaerobic Digestion?

Using anaerobic digestion as an alternative waste management approach features a whole host of benefits to the environment as well as human health. It’s a much-needed solution in countries like the U.S. where, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 40.7 million tons of organic waste were produced in 2017. Another staggering fact is that only 2.6 million tons of the food waste generated that year was said to have been composted, or 6.3%.

One of the many benefits of employing anaerobic digestion is the reduction of the amount of waste we send to landfills. The EPA further states that 86-90% of food waste is highly biodegradable and can even help break down tougher materials like livestock waste. And by collecting the biogas and converting it for better use instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, we cut down on harmful greenhouse emissions. Other benefits include reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and replacing it with biomethane gas and protecting water sources from runoff and contaminants that may harm water supplies, animals, and plant life.

Despite anaerobic digestion being such an effective and highly regarded waste management alternative, it’s still a significantly underused resource. Currently, there are more than 2,000 sites in the U.S. that use anaerobic digestion, mainly found in agricultural, wastewater, and urban settings. It’s believed that there is room for up to 13,500 more sites for anaerobic digesters to be built in the U.S.

Where BurCell® Technologies Comes In

The world’s population continues to rise, and so does the number of countries that are searching for better recycling and waste management options. BurCell® Technologies is here to provide a solution. We are dedicated to the goal of clean energy and a better world and we have found a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly way of ensuring less trash goes to waste. Our state of the art BurCell® System uses a vacuum aided thermal decomposition process that breaks down food, paper, and other organic wastes, creating a highly digestible feedstock that has demonstrated an increase of some 30% more biogas from those organic feedstocks when used for anaerobic digestion.

Utilizing our proprietary BurCell® System, designed material recovery facility provides clean, energy-rich feedstocks that can become a source of reliable renewable energy from anaerobic digestion while recovering valuable non-organic materials that can be reused. Our projects will recover and reuse as much as 75% of the materials we process, a much-needed improvement on current waste management methods.

For more information about The BurCell® System and how it works, contact our team today!

Hand holding an earth toy

How the BurCell® System Makes the World a Better Place

What happens to a product once it is used? Many times, it’s tossed in the trash and carried away. In the U.S., we operate on a linear model where resources are extracted, manufactured, consumed and thrown out after use. A linear model is unsustainable. As piles of garbage continue to increase across the world, and significant amounts of plastic are dumped into the ocean, it is more important now than ever to consider an alternative and the BurCell® System is just what we need.

An Alternative For Waste Management- A Circular Economy

New waste management models have gained some traction in other parts of the world. One model, in particular, is gaining traction and emphasizes sustainable development. This model is known as a circular economy.

With the linear model that is primarily used in the U.S., we make, use, and dispose of a product ultimately creating excessive pollution. With a circular economy, however, a product is made, used, reused, remade, recycled and then goes through the entire process all over again.

In a circular economy, products are no longer just thrown away. Everything is reused and serves a new purpose. Ultimately, waste would disappear, and we would have more resources.

How a Circular Economy Works

The circular economy is based on three goals:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Restore natural systems

This concept is achievable for everyone, including small business owners, large corporations, individuals, and other organizations.

Now, we know what you are thinking. Could waste really be eliminated?

Once this cycle is adapted and being used consistently it will be possible to have zero waste. This sustainable model was designed so that products and materials remain in use by prolonging their lifespan as long as possible. Products in this system are created for durability. Durable products can be reused by others and there is less demand to create new products.

In this new model of a circular economy, materials are separated into two categories: Biological materials and technical materials.

Technical materials on the other hand cannot safely re-enter the environment. These materials include metals, plastics, and synthetic chemicals. With the current linear model, these items get tossed away, serving no purpose, or even worse, they end up polluting the earth. These materials however can be separated and reused in a circular economy. That way their value can be captured and recaptured. Eventually, there will be little to no demand for new plastics, metals, and other technical materials.

Resale sites are a prime example of the success of reusing technical products. You can visit resale sites such as eBay and find used products that can be redistributed to new users.

There are several benefits to a circular economy but most importantly, it protects and improves the environment. In a circular economy, there is no demand for earth's non-renewable resources, and it enhances the renewable ones. With this model, biological materials return back to the earth to support regeneration or using renewable energy rather than relying on fossil fuels.

The goal behind all of this is products are designed for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling products so that durable materials continue to circulate through the economy.

Creating a Better Economy With The BurCell® System

Not only does a circular economy improve the environment, but it also improves the economy, too. As new circular activities are created, we would experience economic growth and there would be lower costs of production for new products. As products are recreated, we would save money on materials, resulting in lower total costs. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, fast-moving consumer goods have a material cost-saving potential of up to $700 billion worldwide.

A circular economy will also create new jobs. As we eliminate the demand for new product manufacturing, we bring on new jobs that are labor-intensive in recycling activities and new jobs in re-manufacturing. We can also expect to see more entrepreneurship as businesses begin selling reusable, recycled products.

The BurCell® System: Enabling a Circular Economy

As the model of a circular economy gains traction, BurCell® Technologies has created a system to put municipal waste to greater use. The BurCell® system gives the ability to reuse, recycle and remanufacture waste.

How is all of this possible? Our System offers the benefit of macro separation. When waste is first brought to our facility, our tools separate large and bulky items, such as metal or large plastics, from the waste that would damage the system.

Once the waste is separated, it is put through a shredder that increases the volume of the waste so that it can be loaded into our BurCell® system. The 50 cubic yard vessel that can process up to 10 tons of waste per cycle.

An operator from our team then adds water and heat and uses a vacuum that starts the operating cycle. The BurCell® system is constantly rotating to breakdown the waste.

Once the system has processed the waste, the vessel is unloaded onto a conveyor where the waste is compiled together to create an organic product that can easily be separated from the non-organic material.

The organic waste is then filtered out and you’re left with anaerobic digestion. Once the non- organic products are separated, it is transferred to a recycling center.

By the end of a cycle, organic waste can be used as feedstock for gasification or as the primary ingredient for compost.

Bi-Products of The BurCell® System

The BurCell® System creates bi-products that can be resold:

  • Organic waste
  • Metal, plastic and glass
  • Inorganic waste

By the end of the process, the waste that was first brought to our facility is now turned into byproducts available for recycled items that can also be resold.

Together, we can make the shift towards a circular economy to make the world a better place. To learn more about our system and how it works, or to schedule a demo, check out our latest blogs, or contact our team today!

Full dumpster in a field

Are We in a Trash Crisis?

The short answer is yes. We are in a trash crisis. The world is drowning in its waste production. It’s a phenomenon that many in the world are either highly aware of or choose to turn a blind eye to. And little has been done to fight this ever-growing problem. The British Broadcasting Corporation reports that every year, the world produces 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste, which is enough to fill more than 800,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and the numbers don’t stop there. The World Bank warns that, if serious action isn’t taken at the current rate, global waste will increase by up to 70 percent by 2050.

In this crisis, which is also referred to as the global waste crisis, America plays a significant role. How do we do our part to ensure less waste ends up at the landfill, impairing our environment? The answer requires an examination of our habits.

What’s Our Waste Problem?

The U.S., along with China, Brazil, Japan, and Germany, is on the shortlist of serial waste generators — countries that produce the highest amounts of solid waste. And we’re the top contributors, producing 3 times the global average in trash containing plastic, waste, and food. Yet, we recycle the least, only reusing approximately 35 percent of the solid waste we produce.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that in 2017, our nation produced 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste, or 4.51 pounds a day per person. Of that waste, only 67.2 million tons of it got recycled, 27 million tons composted, and 139.6 million tons ended up in a landfill. It’s believed that because we don’t see the landfills piling up with waste, we don’t think that there’s an issue. This speaks to why so little movement gets made toward plans to tackle our landfills, where the waste mountains grow taller every day.

Our crisis with trash lies not just in how much waste we produce, but also how we go about disposing of our waste. Previously, the U.S., like other countries, relied on China for the disposal of its municipal waste. But after China banned importing waste in 2018, it left countries looking for alternatives for managing their waste. In some cases, this leads to openly burning the waste, which has harsh, adverse effects on our environment.

But within the tons of trash we dump into landfills, we also lose countless resources. When introduced to processes like anaerobic digestion, these materials result in a co-product used for cooking, generate energy, power engines, or used in nutrient-rich fertilizer, compost, and animal bedding.

Recent events are contributing to the trash crisis as well. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an uptick in needs for single-use products and extra packaging to prevent further spread of the highly infectious virus. And because of stay at home orders, people produce more residential waste from to-go containers and packaging from online purchases. States like Virginia, Idaho and Michigan have halted the intake of materials at landfills and donation sites to avoid the virus and give workers the chance to work through the steady rising heaps of waste. These developments add to the world’s already staggering waste production number and are sure to affect the environment in a way we haven’t yet begun to experience.

The Consequences

The consequences of our waste come full circle and affect our overall health. The trash we improperly dispose of has a way of finding its way back into our bodies. As garbage decomposes, it releases toxins and harmful chemicals, impairing public health, and threatening the environment. These pollutants seep into the ground, affecting the plants, the fauna who eat them, and our groundwater. Those same toxins — often methane and carbon dioxide — are expelled into the air as toxic greenhouse gases when the waste is burned at landfills. It ends up in our drinking water and in the ocean water, killing and infecting the wildlife. Exposure to the toxins can lead to respiratory issues related to breathing in methane gases. Other complications include diarrhea, increased allergies, and cancer.

Environmental and health threats aren’t the only consequences of improper waste management. It has social and financial implications as well. Public waste systems struggle with being able to keep up with the staggering number of pounds of trash amassed daily. Historically, America spends more on trash collection than its disposal of it. Cities allocate between 20 and 50 percent of their budgets to dealing with waste and its management. Because of the steady increase in garbage, cities will likely have to allocate more money to manage the waste, taking those funds away from other departments and projects in need.

What’s the Solution to the Trash Crisis?

There are no quick fixes to the trash crisis. Reducing our waste output is a long process, but we can take small yet powerful steps to increase our recycling percentage and reduce the amount of waste that makes it was to the landfill annually. Measures include no longer purchasing or using plastic water bottles, reducing food waste, repurposing items and donating items instead of throwing them away.

Some experts say that making people pay for the solid waste they dispose of can reduce the amount of careless waste disposal. Similar to water and electric bills, residents pay for what they use. Such a program can encourage mindfulness about what we throw away and increase recycling habits in households.

Another solution to the trash crisis is with the services of BurCell® Technologies. We are dedicated to clean energy and a better world, and have a found a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly way of ensuring less trash goes to waste. Our state-of-the-art BurCell® System, a Synergy BurCell-designed material recovery facility, provides clean, energy-rich feedstocks that can be used in anaerobic digestion to produce reliable renewable energy. Our projects recover and reuse as much as 75 percent of the materials we process and prove to be a much-needed solution in the global trash crisis.

For more information about the BurCell® system and how it works, contact our team today!

Connections around a city skyline

How AI, 5G, and BurCell® Will Revolutionize Waste Management

As those of us who’ve been in the waste management industry know, technology hasn’t been a big component in our daily operations to date. It wasn’t too long ago that we began to even go digital, while many other industries jumped that gap almost 30 years ago. So, what makes 2020 any different? Well, to put it simply, technology is making us more profitable, and it’s costing us far less to implement than it ever has before. Additionally, to that, technology represents both a threat and an opportunity for our business. The threat, because it’s so pervasive now that a startup can begin to take market share quicker than ever before and for far less cost. An opportunity, because if we’re open-minded even a little bit, we can seize that same opportunity that the tech-savvy guys have and leverage it to rapidly grow our own businesses.

So what tech is available to us now and in the near future? Let’s go over the tech that will revolutionize the waste management industry.

5G and Waste Management

You’ve probably heard of 5G in passing or in a commercial somewhere but if you’re scratching your head as to what it is and why it matters, that’s absolutely ok. Phone companies haven’t done a very good job at all explaining anything beyond “it’s coming” and that’s not helpful.

5G, in essence, is the next iteration of mobile communication.

For example, back in 2005, if you had a Nokia brick or Samsung flip phone, that was 2G.

If you had an iPhone in 2010, that level of connectivity was 3G.

Soon after, the marketers took over and the names got very confusing, but what many of us have now is called ITE, and it manages the data between our phone and the cell towers using a very different standard than 3G in order to get higher data rates.

5G is the next standard we’ll all move to and it again is a fundamental shift in how data is encoded into radio waves and then sends this info between our phone and the cell towers. It’ll be a radical shift however because this effectively ends our limitations on computing ability and data transmission rates, we’ll be able to place computers in almost anything. Garbage trucks, trash cans, recycling equipment, literally anything can have a high-speed connection back to a supercomputer somewhere that they can do all the hard work.

This enables us because we’re about to be in a position where we can use these sensors embedded into everything (more commonly called the IoT -or- internet of things) and have them transmit to the supercomputer to calculate in real-time things like:

  • The most cost-effective pick-up routs for waste haulers
  • Information on what items are being put into the trucks and build us a manifest
  • What items are being processed on our conveyers in real-time enough to allow for automated sorting to take place
  • Or many other things we haven’t even thought of yet, and that’s very much the point here

5G means the doors are open to cheap or affordable sensor deployment and real-time heavy data manipulation. And for our purposes, there will be a day within the next decade where a smart college kid builds the tech that forces a revolution in our industry. Be ready for that day.

Artificial Technology (AI) and Waste Management

When 5G is deployed, the computing power behind the pending revolution isn’t going to be on the garbage truck, or on the conveyer belt (commonly called the end-point) it’ll be in a supercomputer housed in a massive facility of other supercomputers (dubbed a data center, or “the cloud”). The software these computers run additionally can have the ability to learn from the information we feed it and make suggestions or decisions based on that information. This is in essence what artificial intelligence (AI) is, and if you’ve ever been talking about a product you want to buy near an Alexa device only to get presented with ads for that product on Facebook for the next three weeks, you’ve seen AI in action.

So, imagine that capability, but far smarter, now mapping out pickup routes for drivers that save waste hauling companies thousands in fuel costs, or that tell conveyor belts in real-time to move a recyclable item down a different line. All this is going to be operationally feasible within the next three years and cost-effective within the next 5. So exploring how you can benefit from these technologies over the next 6-12 months is a smart move.

BurCell® Technologies

Our own tech fits into the revolution because it serves as one of the ways to profit from the advances in technology. When facilities better and more quickly sort their municipal waste, they’re better able to recycle that waste into resellable components, a BurCell® Unit takes the organic portions of that (sorted or unsorted) municipal waste and converts it into various feedstocks and composts which can then be resold.

When AI connects facilities and enables options for receipt of that waste based on the highest bidder feature, we’ll all look for ways to turn waste processing into a raw material production operation rather than simply putting it in a hole.

What Comes First?

The point here isn’t to predict the future, but to begin to think about how technology will continue to connect us and help us make faster and better decisions for our businesses.

This revolution has happened in literally every other industry, and it’ll happen to ours too. If we become more of a supply chain in the future than a service industry it shouldn’t come as a horrible shock.

So what comes first?

The first thing will be that facilities begin to adopt tech like the BurCell® System as a means to differentiate themselves, drive additional revenue, and offer an alternative to waste management. Then as the 5G and AI systems begin to come into the picture, those facilities who are BurCell® partners or BurCell® enabled will be in a position to capture new business and grow far faster than facilities who are reactionary or flat out ignore advances in technology.

It’s a brave new world for us all and BurCell® Technologies especially.

If you’re curious about who we are, what we do, and how you can use a BurCell® machine to resell municipal waste as a raw material rather than put it in a hole, let’s set up a time to talk and go over how we can partner to get your facility ready for the tech revolution and the new opportunities for profitability.

trash in the wilderness

Plastics and the Pandemic: How COVID-19 is Contributing to the Plastic Waste Problem

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, single-use plastics are our savior. They serve many purposes, from surgical masks and body bags to clam-shell containers and trash bags. But though these single-use plastics play a significant role in our health and safety, they’re steadily contributing to an ever-present epidemic: the world’s plastic problem. Below, we explore how our worsening pandemic situation contributes to our mountain of plastic and medical waste.

The Current State of Affairs

Some believe that COVID-19 is the beginning of our plastic problem, when, in fact, it’s only a recent contributor. The world has been drowning in plastic since the 1990s. It’s estimated that we’ve produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic since the 1950s, sifted out to be approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste every year. The problem is, 60 percent of that plastic ends up in a landfill.

Throughout the decades plastic waste production began to skyrocket, thanks to companies boosting single-use plastic production due to their cheapness. This changed how we use and dispose of plastic. Now, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and thrown away (think water bottles, grocery bags, and shampoo bottles). A catalyst to our trash problem began in 2018 when China banned the import of 24 different kinds of waste materials, forcing many countries, including America, to rethink how we disposed of waste.

Yet despite our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle, much of our plastic never disappears. Most of it breaks down into smaller pieces, which are called microplastics. And these bits of plastic find their way back into the world; in the air, devoured by ocean life, and ultimately back onto our plates as food.

The Pandemic’s Assistance

In some ways, the pandemic has single-handedly been responsible for nature’s healing process. Emissions and greenhouse gases are fewer, water is less polluted and flowing clearer, and air quality is improving due to the stay-at-home orders. Because of the mandates and general fear of not being able to properly social distance, the number of cars on the road has reduced, and large factories have slowed down their production.

On the opposite end, the stay-at-home orders are partly responsible for increasing the world’s single-use plastic consumption. Thailand’s Environment Institute backs up this claim, citing the spike in-home deliveries of food as a big reason.

You see, to keep up with revenue despite mandated closures, restaurants began offering to-go options. And though the shift to take out only is convenient for many and provides some semblance of normalcy during the pandemic, it is also creating plastic waste through individually wrapped cutlery, clam-shell containers, cups, and plastic bags. Before the pandemic, many cities and states had begun to band single-use bags in favor of reusable and paper bags. Now, those initiatives have waned, as it’s believed the virus can cling to reusable bags and cups.

But perhaps the most significant contributor to the single-use plastic waste problem is the Personal Protective Equipment primarily worn by frontline health workers and the disposable masks and latex gloves worn by the public.

Enforced to only wear once and discard for our safety, the world takes this request literally; disposing of plastic wherever they can, resulting in masks and gloves piling up in front of hospitals, washing up on beaches, making their way into sewers, and getting left abandoned in the streets. According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), if even 1 percent of the masks we wear are improperly disposed of and dispersed in nature, this would result in 10 million masks per month ending up in the environment.

The way we dispose of our plastic and medical waste isn’t working, and in our efforts to rise out of the pandemic, we’re descending further into a waste epidemic.

In our efforts to rise out of the pandemic, we’re descending further into a plastic waste epidemic. Although there isn’t enough data to put a finite number on the plastic waste generated by the virus, early numbers give a snapshot of what we already fear. The South China Morning Post reported that at the height of Wuhan, China’s battle with the virus, they produced 240 tons of medical waste a day. For the U.S., it’s predicted that because of COVID-19, we could create a whole year’s worth of medical waste in two months.

The pandemic has affected our waste management efforts and, our recycling efforts are beginning to crash. With the virus raging on, even standard recycling protocol for items like water bottles and cardboard boxes have stalled, instead of sending them straight to the dump. Many recycling facilities no longer have the staff or the funds to continue, and the increase in the world’s waste production leaves them overwhelmed.

As the world continues to search for a vaccine and ways to adjust to a new normal, the government must devise a plan to guarantee waste management systems are supported. Single-use plastic proves to be an excellent short-term assistant to our needs during the COVID crisis, but if we’re not careful, it can have long-term, detrimental effects on our environment and the public’s health.

BurCell® Technologies: A Solution to the World’s Waste

The solution to waste management isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s one that requires many pieces to solve the problem. We at BurCell® Technologies believe that our proprietary BurCell® System is a solution to fighting the waste epidemic by offering a better waste management option. We put municipal waste to greater use, able to reuse as much as 75 percent of the material we process to create a highly digestible feedstock that can be used for biogas, nutrient-rich soil, and more.

Contact our team for more information about the BurCell® System and our company!

BurCell Machinery

3 Things to Know About The BurCell® System

In the blink of an eye, the earth’s population has absolutely exploded to huge numbers. In fact, as of 2020, the earth’s population growth rate is around 1.05% per year and the current average population increase is estimated at 81 million people per year.

With this continuous growth, can you imagine how much additional waste is created each year? Where does the waste go? How is organic waste separated from plastics and other waste along the way or even at all?

At BurCell® Technologies, we think about these things, and we’ve created a solution with our BurCell® System to ensure far less trash is wasted.

How? By building state-of-the-art Material Recovery Facilities centered on our proprietary BurCell® System. The BurCell® System accomplishes two critical tasks that are essential to cost-effective recycling and resource recovery: separating mixed waste streams into usable fractions (macro separation) and creating valuable feedstocks that can be converted into multiple forms of biobased energy and biobased materials (value extraction).

What other interesting facts come to mind when we think about the BurCell® System? Well, here are our three favorites.

1. A System That Keeps Trash out of The Landfill

The BurCell® System is a modular batch process designed to process as little as 100 tons of waste per day. In comparison, multiple units can be configured to create a continuously operating system that can process as much as 800-1,000 tons per day. Up to 75% of this material can become a recovered resource, and that keeps waste out of landfills.

Why it’s important: The EPA stated that Americans produced over 267 million tons of trash in 2017. That’s 4 and a half pounds per person per day! What happens to this trash? Some of it is recycled, some of it is burned in waste combustion power plants, but most of it ends up in a landfill.

The BurCell® system is an effective and environmentally superior alternative to landfilling and combustion.

2. The BurCell® System Is Cost-Effective

The state of the art BurCell® Centric Material Recovery Facility is capable of providing its processing services at rates that are competitive with landfilling in many parts of the county.

Why it’s important: The cost of recycling and waste management continues to rise, and we don’t want to add to that problem. Our goal is to reduce the cost of effective waste management.

3. The BurCell® System provides a unique and reliable source of renewable energy feedstock materials.

The BurCell® System converts municipal solid waste into an organic process engineered feedstock (B-PEF) that becomes a reliable source of renewable energy when utilized in anaerobic digestion, gasification or pyrolysis. Once the organics are removed, mixed plastics can be easily separated for recycling or renewable fuel production.

Why it’s important: Whether you realize it or not, the earth is running out of natural resources. Think about all the oil, gas, and coal that is being used, and has been used since it was first discovered. The demand for those natural resources continues to increase, as the earth’s population increases, and the environmental impacts of consuming these fossil fuels is well known.

This means that there must be some sort of alternative; which is exactly what the BurCell® System creates. The feedstocks that are created become a reliable source of renewable energy.

The BurCell® System: Making the World A Better Place

As fast as the world’s population continues to increase, we must do something about the way we handle waste. The BurCell® System is the system we need to break down waste and turn the compost into something that we can use as an alternative to the earth’s limited and scarce resources.

Want to learn more about how the BurCell® System works? Contact our team today.

To learn more about The BurCell® System and hear our latest news and updates, stay tuned for our upcoming blogs!

overflowing city trash

What is the Zero-Waste Movement and Why Does It Matter?

There is a really cool movement called zero-waste that's been growing since 2006. We think the ramifications of this movement far exceed simply beginning to recycle and starting a composting program.

Now, if you've been following along with the zero-waste movement at all, some of this might be a little repetitive, but if zero-waste is new to you, hold tight because there are some really revolutionary ideas built into the movement's architecture that will very likely change every industry within the next five years.

First, What is Zero Waste?

There are a few definitions of zero-waste that focus on the concept from different perspectives.

  • Wikipedia says: “Zero Waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused” - we prefer this definition
  • Vox simply says its goal is to, “Create as little garbage as possible.”
  • And the US Conference of Mayors has its own (very exhaustive) definition available here.

To put it simply, with zero waste, the ultimate goal is to continually reuse a product without ever permanently discarding it. So, with a zero-waste system, we reduce, reuse, and recycle. Sure. However, the implications in this area are that we fundamentally change the way we view resources, product management and the system architecture of resource utilization.

Why is Zero-Waste Important to The Waste Management Industry?

The concept of recycling has been around for many decades at this point and we've seen it manifest in renewable consumer goods as well as an updated waste management process, but it hasn't gotten to the point where it's fundamentally changed the waste management industry.

That's what we think is different about the zero-waste movement. With zero-waste, the implications are at a much more fundamental level than just recycling a simple consumer good. It speaks to a driving force that's been steadily and sometimes very rapidly changing our economy for the past hundred years, and that's the concept of lean. Now lean is a concept first developed by the manufacturing industry, and it aims to remove waste from processes. This was such a radically profitable exercise though, that it’s now been adopted in every industry and we've seen that the companies who’ve adopted lean principles have become far more profitable than those who haven’t. Which is an ever more Darwinian economy means those companies that adopt lean principles will always win out over those who don't.

So if we look at the zero waste movement from the lens of a new manifestation of an otherwise lean principle, we’ll very quickly see that this is something that will continue to shape the manufacturing, product development, Waste Management Industries at a foundational level.

Going deeper, let's first focus on the manufacturing industry, and that with implementations of zero-waste it's highly likely that companies that manufacture consumer goods are going to continue to more deeply source their materials from what's being called the circular economy than they will through raw material providers. The consequences here are that companies will begin to forge long-term sourcing agreements with one another, and will begin focusing on more interdependent relationships between their providers to ensure that the materials they are sourcing from their partners are still at a high-quality status at the moment of procurement. Meaning, the end-users still enjoy a quality product, while the manufacturer enjoys higher margins from the waste reduction.

This then leads to the product management world.

Going forward, product managers are going to be more systematic in how they develop and source new consumer goods, so that they fit (or better fit) into a larger ecosystem of resource management and thus better retain their value (i.e. are able to be resold to manufactures further in the value stream).

An example of this would be a pop can, wherein a circular,  zero-waste environment, that pop could have been a car in a prior life,  and after its initial pop can use it might be a  reusable drinking cup, and then perhaps after it's damaged enough to merit being discarded it goes back to being billet aluminum where the process repeats, seemingly forever.

Now what's really important to note here isn't the life of the pop can, or the aluminum, or the re-use ability of the product. It's the profitability obtained by the car manufacturer, the soda pop producer, and the recycler as a result of removing all the non-reusable (wasteful) components in the life of that pop can (i.e. non-renewable paint for each product, non-renewable packaging, or the cost of sourcing the raw materials from the earth).

So when you're looking at how the zero waste movement will affect our society, don't look at it from the perspective of saving the environment, but rather look at it as companies trying to become extremely efficient and profitable as a result of wasting absolutely nothing.  Bi-products, scrape, and every piece of packaging in between being reused or resold to partners.

Then take that idea and look at zero-waste from the lens of how it would affect a consumer. Because this is very likely to be how the future unfolds for waste managers as a result of the zero-waste movement.

How The BurCell® System Contributes to the Zero-Waste Movement

We think in the future waste management is going to be more about building brokerage relationships with manufacturers and product managers than it will be about permanently disposing of waste. The major difficulty with overcoming the value gap between incoming municipal waste and outgoing feedstocks, compost or reused raw materials is the processing involved.

This is where the BurCell® System comes into play. By ingesting raw municipal waste, in a large-scale batch format, and processing it to reclaim the value of each core material we're enabling the circular economy (and waste managers/manufacturers in particular) with the means through which to reclaim value, build those brokerage agreements and reclaim margin in a new and profound way.

What Happens to Waste in The BurCell® System?

Waste is first brought to our facility. Our tools then separate any large and bulky items that could interrupt the process or harm the system.

After the separation takes place, the materials are then moved onto a shredder. The shredding process is intended to increase the surface area of the material and the amount the system can process in one batch. Once the material is shredded and the capacity is bulked up, it’s then ready to load into the BurCell® System.

Once the system is full and ready to go, one of our team members adds water, heat, and draws a vacuum to begin the operating cycle. At this point, the BurCell® System will continue to rotate to break down organic waste at a quick pace.

Once the waste is broken down, the material is loaded onto another conveyer where the inorganic components including metal, glass, and plastic are separated from the organic byproducts for the anaerobic digestor.

The BurCell® System: Taking the First Step to Zero-Waste

The BurCell® System is the perfect solution to enabling value reclamation and the circular economy while working towards zero waste.

To learn more about our system and how it works, or to schedule a demo, check out our latest blogs or contact our team today!