fruit and vegetable food waste
Bright Feeds has opened a facility that will be able to process wet food waste into an animal feed product.
© Stefan Redel | stock.adobe.com

Food waste recycling plant helps fill processing gap in Connecticut

Bright Feeds' inaugural plant is licensed to process 450 tons of food waste daily for use in animal feed.

November 3, 2022

Berlin, Connecticut-based Bright Feeds opened its first food waste processing plant in Berlin in late October.

Licensed to process 450 tons of food waste per day for the next 10 years, the plant is positioned to fill a waste processing gap left by the July 2022 closure of the MIRA waste-to-energy plant in nearby Hartford, Connecticut. At capacity, the environmental impact of the Berlin plant is equivalent to removing 22,000 cars from the road every year. The carbon-negative process uses less energy and is more scalable than other food waste recycling solutions. 

“With Bright Feeds here, we have a bright future in Connecticut,” Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes says. “I’m excited about what this could mean, not just for Berlin, but for helping Connecticut solve this waste disposal crisis in a really exciting way.”

Bright Feeds’ 25,000-square-foot plant uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence and drying technology to convert unwanted food into an all-natural, nutritious soy and corn substitute for animal feed. Bright Feeds developed its proprietary drying technology with engineers at Boston College, Boston, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts. It uses best-in-class equipment sourced from around the globe and manufactured and assembled in the United States. 

According to the EPA, feeding animals is the top solution for reducing food waste after feeding hungry people.

“Yes, we can turn it into compost. Yes, we can turn it into energy. Those are all good—but the best thing is to take this stuff and preserve it as food,” Bright Feeds Board Chairman and investor Scott Kalb says. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Accepting a variety of food waste enables Bright Feeds to consistently produce a nutritious product. Bright Feeds then sells the meal to animal feed manufacturers who use it as an ingredient in their feed.

“Not only are we solving the food waste problem, but we’re doing it in a way that’s more efficient than anything else commercially available,” Bright Feeds President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Rassias says.

New England’s ongoing waste crisis calls for creative solutions. With shrinking landfill space, higher gas prices and multiplying tipping fees, waste disposal is has become a mounting challenge for businesses and municipalities. 

Bright Feeds enables the responsible disposal of unwanted food for a fraction of typical tipping fees.

“Forty-one percent of what we burn and bury every year is actually valuable material: It’s food scraps; it’s yard waste; it’s all kinds of organics that are incredibly valuable and can be repurposed,” says Dykes. “The Bright Feeds model is, for the first time, at scale, turning food waste into a food source for animals, which is one of the best uses for organic material under Connecticut’s waste hierarchy.” 

Thanks to its pioneering technology, Bright Feeds can accept vegetables, fruit and other wet food waste in addition to dry, grain-based waste.

“We’re a one-stop shop for food waste,” Bright Feeds CEO Jonathan Fife says. “We built our whole process around taking a variety of inputs and producing a consistent, high-quality feed.”

The Berlin plant is located between Interstates 91 and 84 near USA Waste’s new recycling center within easy reach of New York and Massachusetts. Bright Feeds also has a collection point in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and others in the works. The company plans to scale up with additional plants first in New England and then throughout the country.

Fast food waste facts:

  • Globally, if food waste were a country, it would be the third greatest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States.
  • In the U.S., about 40 percent of food is never eaten—and nearly 70 percent of that waste typically ends up in landfills or greenhouse gas-emitting incinerators.
  • New England produced more than 2 million tons of food waste in 2019, with 520,000 tons produced in Connecticut, where food comprises about 22 percent of disposed waste.