New Ways to Monetize Waste

Samantha Zeitz

An Alabama based company is giving us “food for thought” or should we say thought for food? Tuscaloosa’s Inventure is repurposing food waste and finding ways to monetize it.

Inventure is responsible for 16 patents and have 45 pending towards their eco-friendly business. One project the Inventure team is involved in includes the transformation of waste produced by vegetable oil refining into bio-diesel fuel. They are also able to extract Vitamin E in the process. The technology being used is now in place at a 50 million dollar distillation plant in China.

Another Inventure project includes taking a waste, known as soap stock from vegetable oil refineries and turning it into natural chemicals used in paints, rubber, and cosmetics. The process actually consumes carbon dioxide while increasing the value of the waste by five times. The company is hoping to open plants in Iowa and France to accommodate production.

Inventure’s chief operating officer, John Brown, recently told the Alabama Media Group that their process to create cost-effective renewable energy takes up to two years. They first have to inspect the materials they plan to use and determine what materials and chemicals it contains. Once they know what they’re working with they have to figure out how it can be extracted. The chemists and engineers then determine the most inexpensive and responsible way to transform the waste into fuel.

Inventure is a multifaceted company. They have a lab that is used to look at the chemistry of their product, while a separate area is used as a testing facility. Materials are tested to see how they degrade over time and how they react under different conditions, like heat and pressure. At any given time, 200 to 300 different studies could be going on at once. As Brown has stated, food-waste many look like garbage to most people, but it’s really money.