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Scraps to Feed at the Upcyclery

Up-cycle by-products of food manufacturers into a high-quality, shelf-stable, and ecologically-sensitive livestock feed.

Photo of Aitan Mizrahi
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Why waste?

Here at the Upcyclery in West Oakland, California we see an opportunity to fill the gap in our domestic food waste challenge by collecting organic by-products from food manufacturers and converting them into a locally-sourced, highly-nutritious, and environmentally-responsive livestock feed.

With Oakland committing to becoming a zero waste city by 2020, we see an urgent need to re-analyze our food waste systems. Stepping in to divert the 19% of food waste lost to landfills in Alameda County, we will help the city move towards its goal.

As  more food is produced in cities and farther from farms, the ecological and monetary costs to  transport wet scraps long distances to compost facilities and landfills increase. Rather than losing nourishing by-products to landfills and compost, we are upcycling these nutrients, while shifting the perception of “waste” in our society.

What is our vision?

As pioneers in our field, we hope to inspire others to make local upcyclery stations to process the secondary resources that are created by the network of near-by food manufacturers.  We are hoping that our model of urban upcycling will promote the expansion of similar ventures in cities globally and will help promote the understanding of food scraps  as a valuable resource.

What are we selling?

Our company focuses on the strata of food that is no longer fit for human consumption, but is too nutritious to simply be lost to landfills or compost. We seek to find a home for the niche underappreciated  discards, pieces such as fruit peels, spent grains, stems and skins. By drying and pelletizing these ingredients into a  complete feed, we provide a product that is both economical to transport, consistently available and environmentally pro-active.

How are we doing it?

We collect single stream industrial by products from food manufacturing facilities and convert this material into different variations of animal feed. We are currently playing around with recipes that include spent hops, spent distillers grain and okara, a byproduct from the tofu making process. After collecting  these materials, we then dry, pelletize, store and distribute our product, according to the nutrient needs of the particular feed. Because the feed is dried & stored, our products will be reliably distributed year round with no lapses in availability.

Where will we source our materials?

We are reaching out to companies in the area that want to put their leftovers to a better ecological use, and lessen their cost of waste disposal. We are currently working with Ghost Town Brewery, Wright & Brown Distillery and Hodo Soy, three manufacturers all within a quarter mile of our facility.  With three consistent partners and the prospect of more on the horizon, we are working to develop a varied and steady stream of source material.

Who will we distribute to?

The first recipient to benefit from our complete feed are the fish and chickens we raise at the Upcyclery. Our product will develop to suit varying stages and species of animal, according to prevalence of our source material & nutritional needs. After perfecting our recipes and scaling our product,our market will expand to supply local farms, backyard agriculturalists and eventually the small and large farms in the Western states that are committed to environmentally sustainable values. We hope to be one of many hubs in a larger Upcycling network.

What stage are we at?

Having assembled  our equipment and team, we are now moving into the experimental stages of our process. Working with feed specialists and  experts from government agencies and universities, we are honing in on workable recipes, or feed “cocktails” as we call them, while simultaneously expanding our  source material partners. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

The first recipient to benefit from our complete feed are the fish and chickens we raise at the Upcyclery. Following the guidance of feed experts, we will perfect our recipe and test viability of the product.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Our hope in working with Open Ideo is to present our project for public review before beginning to scale our project. We would love to collaboratively discuss our potential pain-points and connect with others who might have insight or commonality with our project. Openly discussing the feasibility and viability of our project with a like-minded community will help us grow our project in a productive manner, and will connect us with allies to work towards becoming a zero-waste society.

Tell us about your work experience:

My personal experiences has involved dairy farming, natural building, and ecological design. Combining past experiences I am developing new ecologically-minded process for the urban landscape.

I work with an awesome team here at the Upcyclery. Scraps to Feed is only one of many projects we are developing to increase urban agriculture, create renewable energy, and help to manage waste.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It was in the works before this challenge – it’s existed for 2-6 months

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