Every year, Americans discard approximately 40% of all food produced, generating 35 million tons of organic waste that is directed to landfills. This level of food waste is unprecedented in history and eclipses each of the country’s plastic, paper, metal, wood and glass waste streams. As food decomposes it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. As a result, landfills now emit 25% of the nation’s methane every year. 
Two questions emerge: why do one in nine people in the world suffer from chronic hunger while Americans waste freely, and what are the business and environmental opportunities that arise from this system inefficiency? The former is a daunting question that requires careful consideration and cooperation at a global scale; it won’t be addressed here. Harvest Power has emerged as an effective market leader in efforts to address the latter question by intervening at the intersection of organic waste, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and healthy communities. 
Harvest Power diverts organic waste, otherwise bound for landfills, for use as feedstock to generate renewable energy from anaerobic digestion and to manufacture soils, mulches, and fertilizers. Harvest annually produces 43 million bags of agricultural products and generates 65 billion watt hours of energy from 1.8 million tons of redirected organic waste. Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency describe this business model as a quadruple win: “the process creates a biogas that generates safe, reliable, and cost effective renewable electricity and heat. It saves cities and towns money by lowering waste disposal costs. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions by taking rotting food waste out of landfills and incinerators, and it conserves scarce landfill space.’’  Returning unutilized resources back into the agricultural system via renewable energy and organic soils, mulches, and fertilizers drives our society towards a more sustainable state while creating value for every stakeholder.
Waste sorting, anaerobic digestion, and soil manufacturing are not novel or complex operations; almost 200 farms and over 1,500 wastewater treatment plants employ biogas systems . What, then, is the operational secret sauce that supports Harvest’s business model? Harvest Power’s operational approach to value creation is realized only through deliberate end-to-end stakeholder management. Harvest partners with and offers support to parties along the entire food production, distribution, and consumption value chain; in their own words “from soup to nuts, nuts to volts, and volts to vegetables.” Harvest currently partners with food waste generating businesses, waste haulers, municipalities, utilities, affected residents, and agricultural retailers. Since discarding food waste into the garbage remains the path of least resistance, Harvest must be deliberate about defining the value proposition of Harvest’s new system for each party in the chain and must incentivize them to participate. For example, to food waste generating businesses such as restaurants and supermarkets, Harvest provides fit-for-purpose sorting solutions and charges reduced disposal costs as compared to conventional landfill haulers. Further, Harvest partners with municipalities and utilities to advocate for policies that support renewable energy adoption and prohibit food waste from entering landfills . These partnerships secure enduring business for Harvest while offering value to its partners by way of reduced landfill utilization, reduced environmental degradation, and low-cost renewable energy production.
Harvest Power’s business and operating models clearly align and support one another. The business consumes a readily available, low-cost commodity (food waste) and converts that resource into multiple value streams. The business model is one that is value creative for every stakeholder by reducing net greenhouse gas emissions, lowering total disposal costs, slowing landfill space consumption, and returning unutilized inputs from the agricultural system via renewable energy, soils, mulches, and fertilizers. The operational model supports this business by prioritizing stakeholder engagement, by creating enduring partners who help ensure security of supply, and by developing core competencies in the specialized areas of waste sorting, anaerobic digestion, composting at scale, and resource policy advocacy. The emergence of significant competition or a change in consumer behavior that reduces food wastage is unlikely to materially impact the performance of Harvest Power given their operational strengths and stakeholder partnerships.
But don’t let that stop you from wasting less food.