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October 31, 2022

Food-waste plant opens in Berlin

Contributed Bright Feeds is a New England-based green technology company.

A new plant is up and running in Berlin, the first in Connecticut that processes food waste into animal feed.

Bright Feeds, a New England-based green technology company with offices in Worcester, Mass., opened its Berlin processing plant about three months ago, and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week.

The facility takes food waste primarily from commercial facilities and converts it into a “high-quality, nutrient-rich animal feed replacement for soy and corn.”

Bright Feeds CEO Jonathan Fife said the company was inspired when looking at the environmental consequences from food waste ending up in landfills and incinerators, especially after the shuttering of the MIRA incinerator that serviced about one-third of Connecticut's waste. 

“In the U.S., about 40% of food is never eaten — and that waste often ends up in landfills or greenhouse gas-emitting incinerators,” according to Bright Feeds data.

“We felt like we could repurpose the food that would have gone to a landfill or incinerator into an animal feed, and that would result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions,” Fife said.

The new technology would also mean Bright Feed could save money by reducing the need and costs related to shipping food waste out of state.

“And the cost to bring food waste to us is significantly lower than a landfill or incinerator,” Fife said.

Bright Feeds’ cost for processing materials is based on the quality of the waste, Fife said, but “in no instance have we been close to where MIRA charged.”
Bright Feeds even purchases some of the more high-protein, lower-moisture food waste since it has a higher conversion rate and it makes a higher-quality feed, Fife said. 

Bright Feed gets its food waste from large trash haulers in the area, large food processors and other food waste recycling companies.

The plant currently takes in about 60 tons of waste a day and puts out 45 tons of feed. 

They are permitted to take in as much as 450 tons a day, and Fife said it’s encouraging to have the opportunity to take in much more tonnage and reduce the landfill volume and costs and environmental effects of shipping waste out of state.

The food waste is all vegetarian, although Fife said workers are looking to start processing meat soon.

The feed goes to livestock facilities that use it to supplement their corn and soybean feed, and also sell to smaller agricultural operations.

Fife said it saves livestock operations money since they have to purchase less corn and soy, and offers “high quality nutrients at a lower cost.”

He praised Connecticut’s state policies that encourage the green food waste process and the work of the Connecticut Coalition of Sustainable Materials Management, an organization started by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is working with 90 municipalities to try to solve the waste crisis.

AdvanceCT helped Bright Feeds set up shop in Connecticut.

AdvanceCT  CEO Peter Denious said "Bright Feeds is an incredibly exciting company – the proverbial ‘win-win’ for our state. This was also a great case study in Connecticut working together at the state and local level.  We are proud to have helped them land in Berlin.”

Fife said the Berlin team has welcomed this type of green technology, and offered a transparent process of setting up shop.

The Berlin plant currently has about seven to eight workers, with a goal of 30 employees as they take on more clients.

Bright Feeds chose the Berlin location because they wanted a site close to the MIRA plant. Berlin’s industrial area and proximity to highways was also attractive, Fife said.
The company bought the 73 Fuller Way property in 2021 for $1.4 million and demolished the building that had been home to Premiere Limousine.

They built a brand new 25,000-square-foot plant with the required 40-foot ceilings. Fife said the company made a multimillion-dollar investment into the new building and equipment.

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