One man’s trash, another’s treasure? In sustainability, we try to reframe business and social challenges as opportunities. Food waste in the U.S. is astounding–33 million tons per year, or more than 4 pounds per person per day. Whether it’s food that was too hot, too cold, or just a person who prefers not to eat the crust of their bread, food waste is a problem that can be reframed as an opportunity. After all, food waste has the potential to be a terrific resource for communities across the world.

Think about it this way: left to its own devices, when living matter dies, it eventually breaks down to become fertilizer for plants. This is how soils have been built up over eons throughout history. Mankind has changed that pattern and instead puts food waste into a sealed landfill, where it is locked away with all sorts of toxic and nonrenewable products, like plastic and styrofoam. When that food waste decomposes, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas (23 times more powerful than CO2).

The startup Re-Nuble won sponsorship from Startup America for taking exactly this approach to reinventing waste as a resource, and finding a sustainable business model from it. Re-Nuble is looking to launch a program of food waste digestion in the greater Washington, D.C., area, and is currently raising funds on IndieGogo to help get them started.

The idea, at least on its surface, is simple: create collection avenues for yard waste and food waste that will go to a special digester. The digester turns the organic waste into useful compost for local farmers, and in the process, harvests the methane gas as a renewable source of energy, which it sells to the utility. Check out their wickedly cool video here:

There aren’t many startups that have the potential to truly revolutionize the world, but this one has merit. Re-Nuble is looking to work with restaurateurs, hotels, conference centers, caterers, supermarket chains, and lawn and landscape services companies.

Check out Re-Nuble’s IndieGogo campaign and kick in a few bucks for a good cause. For $20, you get a chance to name the digester! For $80, you can even get a great gardening kit.

All in all, no matter whether you contribute or just forward this on to friends and colleagues, this startup has the real potential to change how we look at food waste, create green jobs, and to dramatically change the picture of renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions. So please forward it along!

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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