A few years after opening her cafe, Rebecca Scott realised she had a food waste problem.
Basically, there was more of it than she’d expected.
‘The business grew much bigger than we anticipated,’ Rebecca shares. ‘We had been doing the composting ourselves on the farm which was manageable until we scaled up.’
Their earth-friendly solution stops working for them
At that time, all of the food waste generated by Rebecca’s Kitchen, in Kilbrittain, Co. Cork was processed by Rebecca’s dad, Guy Scott.
Guy lives on a farm, the same farm the cafe is on, and has a big vegetable garden. He would compost the business’s food waste and use it to enrich the land.
‘I knew that in the longer term that wasn’t going to be sustainable if the cafe got busier,’ Guy says.
Turns out, bin collection comes with too many challenges
Early on, Rebecca ruled out getting a commercial bin collection.
Guy says they found the service provider unhelpful. Plus, their location in the country meant there’d only be a collection once every few weeks. Unacceptable. No food business can afford to leave food waste waiting around that long, as it increases the risk of attracting rodents.
Rebecca and Guy needed an alternative to composting. And sending the cafe’s food waste to a landfill, where it would release greenhouse gas emissions, simply wasn’t an option.
They see the opportunity for their own circular economy
Guy got in touch with MyGug after watching Eco Eye’s feature on Kieran in which he demos an early biodigester he’d built.
‘I remember thinking that’s a great idea for turning waste into useful products and creating a circular economy,’ Guy says.
Guy presented the idea to Rebecca who was on board straightaway. It couldn’t have made more sense for them.
Owning a MyGug biodigester, or ‘egg’, would take care of the cafe’s food waste, while also generating a clean cooking gas for Rebecca and liquid fertiliser Guy could use in his garden.
They help refine the egg for food businesses
At the time, Kieran had only developed a biodigester for his family’s domestic use.
Installing a unit in Rebecca’s Kitchen would be his first foray into making anaerobic digestion work for a food business.
‘We were very much guinea pigs,’ Rebecca says. There were a few teething issues at the beginning. Mainly blockages when something went into the egg that shouldn’t. ‘But as soon as any issue cropped up, Kieran would be out to us.’
Working with Rebecca’s kitchen allowed Kieran to adapt and update the biodigester’s design to meet the needs of a food business.
Teething issues resolved, it didn’t take long for Rebecca’s MyGug to become a natural part of her nightly cleaning routine. After wiping down, she takes the day’s food waste outside and feeds it to the egg.
‘The egg has dramatically decreased my cost in gas’
‘The novelty doesn’t wear off. It’s just fascinating to me,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s waste one evening and the next morning it’s gas.’
Most of the cafe’s cooking is now done off the biogas which Rebecca describes as ‘like any other gas’ she cooks on.
Rebecca has kept her original gas tank as she has one appliance that can only run on LPG gas. But she can’t remember the last time she had to fill it.
‘The egg has dramatically decreased my cost in gas,’ Rebecca says. ‘There was an initial setup fee. But since then I’ve had very little cost.’
As for the fertiliser byproduct, that’s working out well for Guy and his veg garden.
There’s been a nice perk they hadn’t expected
One unforeseen benefit has been the egg’s popularity with customers.
It’s visible from the road, so as soon as people drive up, they’re interested.
Rebecca often looks out and sees people examining the egg or reading the information provided. There are often kids running around it. ‘They’re just as fascinated by it as we are.’
If you’re considering an egg, here’s what Rebecca can tell you
Now, after years of using the biodigester for her business, Rebecca only has good things to say about it.
‘There are no drawbacks. No downside to it. There’s an initial cost, but when you look at the breakdown across the years of what you’re getting back, it’ll pay for itself very fast. I would highly encourage anyone that was thinking about it to do it.’
It’s a simple circular economy that has solved the problem of how to deal with food waste for Rebecca’s Kitchen. And not only that, Rebecca and Guy get two useful byproducts in return.
But, according to Rebecca, it’s about more than just the practical payoffs. ‘It feels good to know that I’m doing my bit to help the environment’.
Earn that same feel-good sense of achievement – and produce your own biogas and fertiliser to boot. Click here to ask to arrange a call with MyGug.
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