From Sci-Fi to Reality: How Garbage is Becoming Our Next Source of Sustainable Energy

'Re-Nuble' is a startup that gives cities the ability to cut pollution and create their own sustainable energy.
Re-Nuble hopes to make food waste and gardening trimmings into electricity and fertilizer. (Photo: Allan Baxter/Getty Images)
Nov 10, 2012· 1 MIN READ
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

By now everyone has heard the startling statistic that over 40 percent of all food in the U.S. ends up in the trash. As landfills, and the greenhouse gas emissions they create, reach critical mass, a new need is opening up to discover all the ways we can turn trash into fuel. Starbucks is researching how to do it with their leftover pastries, aqua farms in Long Island are devising ways to do it with killer algae, and now one D.C.-based startup is hoping to do it with locally-sourced waste from small businesses.

Re-nuble is a for-profit social enterprise that promises to collect and reuse organic waste, including food and gardening trimmings. The Huffington Post reports that instead of dumping that garbage in a landfill, Re-Nuble will turn it into two different forms of energy― green energy that’s used for waste-free electricity consumption, and organic fertilizer used in sustainable farming.

This week the company, which is still in its concept phase, announced the start of its IndieGoGo fund that hopes to raise $25,000 for necessary environmental permits.

The goal of the company is to stick to a closed-loop system, which means that at every step in its process, it’s helping instead of hurting the environment. Therefore, instead of using fossil fuels to ship waste from one state to another, Re-Nuble will partner with municipalities in order to open local branches, ensuring garbage never has to travel far before being turned into renewable energy. In addition, that business model promises to create green jobs in each city that becomes a Re-Nuble partner.

What’s so smart about it is that the energy created will stay within those local municipalities, allowing them to actively participate in creating their own sustainable energy sources, decrease their own greenhouse gas emissions, and get an added economic boost by lowering their waste disposal costs.

It’s the latest in an ongoing trend of turning “stuff we no longer want” into fuel for electricity, automobiles, and the like. Though companies like Starbucks and Thimble Island Oysters are on the brink of turning waste into fuel, Re-Nuble sticks out not just as a laboratory process, but as a business model. If it works as promised, it can be incorporated nationwide. After all, everyone has trash to be recycled. And this way, small and large businesses can play a direct role in reducing pollution, while actively creating clean energy.

Do you think a plan like Re-Nuble could be implemented as a long-term solution? Let us know what you think in the Comments.