Divert, Inc., a technology company operating in the food waste space, broke ground yesterday on a state-of-the-art integrated recovery facility in Turlock, CA. The new facility will capture and turn wasted food into carbon-negative renewable energy, bringing California closer to reaching its net-zero carbon pollution goal by 2045. The event featured Divert CEO Ryan Begin and several dignitaries, including California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak, and Keenan Krick of the nearby Second Harvest Food Bank, which was the recipient of a generous food donation by Divert in conjunction with its retail partners including Albertsons, Safeway, and CVS.
Begin, who will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Organic Produce Summit in July, thanked the many different people and entities that have had a hand in bringing this project to fruition, including the city of Turlock and the state of California. He added that “none of this would be possible without our customers.” He noted that Divert’s business model involves taking packaged food waste from retailers, eliminating the need to dump it in landfills and instead turning it into energy.
“California is a proving ground for our model,” he said, adding that the company’s first facility was a $30 million project built by Kroger and placed in Compton, CA.
That project was funded and is owned by the retailer. The Turlock facility is owned by Divert and will take food waste from multiple retailers throughout California and the neighboring states. Begin applauded California and said, “It is an amazing place to do business.” In fact, he thanked the California Legislature for passing progressive legislation that addresses the food waste issue and mandates action. The Turlock facility is owned by Divert and will take food waste from multiple retailers throughout California and the neighboring states. Begin applauded California and said, “It is an amazing place to do business.”
In a press statement prior to the event, Begin said, “The wasted food crisis is a major contributor to climate change and food insecurity. States and municipalities are on the front lines, under increasing pressure to ensure that their communities live in healthy, sustainable environments. It is fitting that today’s announcement falls on April 26, global Stop Food Waste Day.
For the past 16 years, Divert has been at the forefront of working to prevent waste through our sustainable infrastructure and advanced technologies. This is a transformative opportunity to scale Divert’s proven solutions in California and further accelerate our vision for a waste-free future.”
He refers to himself and partner Nick Whitman as “garage entrepreneurs” who worked on perfecting the concept for many years before the Kroger facility was completed 11 years ago. The 65,000-square-foot Turlock facility will further deliver on Divert’s commitment to transform waste from retailers and other companies into carbon negative renewable energy, thereby preventing it from emitting harmful methane in landfills. The facility will also provide companies with data analytics, giving them the insights to take preventative steps to waste less and donate more food that is still edible.
The facility brings Divert closer to its plans to have 30 facilities across the United States within 100 miles of 80 percent of the US population in the next 8–10 years. The company currently manages about 0.5 percent of US wasted food from 5,400 food retail stores. Its goal is to grow that to 5 percent through its expansion plans. Once fully operational in 2024, the Turlock facility will be able to process 100,000 tons of wasted food a year. The facility will offset up to 23,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—the equivalent of taking nearly 5,000 gas-powered cars off the road each year. The facility’s renewable energy production will be enough to supply roughly 3,000 homes each year.
“The wasted food crisis is a major contributor to climate change and food insecurity. States and municipalities are on the front lines, under increasing pressure to ensure that their communities live in healthy, sustainable environments.” – Ryan Begin
States are increasingly implementing legislation to tackle climate change, including tax incentives, stricter laws for reprocessing wasted food, and stronger liability protection for food donations, as outlined in the federal Food Donation Improvement Act of 2022. In California specifically, the state’s SB 1383 law, passed in 2016, requires the diversion of wasted food from landfills through waste prevention or donation and encourages the use of anaerobic digestion to create renewable energy.
Ma told the crowd that she has been passionate about the food waste issue since she was a supervisor in San Francisco and had to deal with shrinking landfill space. She carried that passion into the California Legislature as a member there and is now doing what she can as State Treasurer.
In a pre-event statement, she said: “I am proud of the work my office and partners across California are doing to address climate change and meet the state’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals through green financing. The green bond issued through the California Public Financing Authority is one example of how California is leading on climate change through quality, long-term green infrastructure opportunities. We applaud Divert’s commitment to tackling our state’s wasted food crisis with the development of this new facility, making strides toward a stronger economy and a better-quality life for the people that we serve, now and into the future.”
“I am proud of the work my office and partners across California are doing to address climate change and meet the state’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals through green financing. The green bond issued through the California Public Financing Authority is one example of how California is leading on climate change through quality, long-term green infrastructure opportunities.” – Fiona Ma
Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, thanking Divert and all the other partners for bringing this project to her town. She said it will not only bring new jobs and economic growth to the region but make important strides in reducing the footprint of wasted food. During the event, a team from Second Harvest Food Bank created 60 boxes of food, which it planned to distribute to needy Turlock families. Krick noted that the food bank will be an ongoing partner of Divert, delivering usable food to those in need as part of the facility’s operation when it is up and running. Founded in 2007, Divert creates advanced technologies and sustainable infrastructure to eliminate wasted food. The company, which is headquartered in Massachusetts, provides an end-to-end solution that prevents waste by maximizing the freshness of food, recovers edible food to serve communities in need, and converts wasted food into renewable energy.