Food for thought with a real alternative

Based in Toombridge in Co Antrim, the company offers a new type of food waste treatment, preventing leftovers from going down the drain and entering the water system.

“Before I started Caterwaste I was involved in drainage, helping companies to reduce the amount of effluent going down their drains,” says Mr Dorman.

“This is a particular concern for catering companies and restaurants because local authorities have been tightening up on water regulation and imposing fines if the amount of food waste they put through the water system breaks limits.

“Companies are accustomed to using macerators, which mush everything up first, but these are not an acceptable solution any more. Though they were marketed as environmentally-friendly, the food waste still attracts rats and backs up pipes, which taxpayers end up paying for.

There are two founders behind Caterwaste, myself and a friend, Charlie Shivers. Charlie was a plumber before this so he came across the same problems. We have financed it entirely by ourselves so far though we are now planning to seek environmental grants.

Our solution is a new type of food treatment technology, designed in Korea. We import and adapt it for the Irish market.

The caterer or restaurant puts the food into our unit which then heats and grinds it up, drawing out any moisture. Up to 90pc of food waste in many cases is just water. It also sterilises the food.

You are left with a stable granular biomass, with weight and size massively reduced. It can be used for a variety of purposes – as a compost ingredient because it is very rich in nitrogen, a biofuel, or an animal food substitute among others. There are lots of different applications.

“We launched last month and already have units in place in a local café and local restaurant. We have also had interest from a couple of bigger chains. It is a new technology so there are a lot of demonstrations and learning involved for potential clients.

“The biggest challenge is convincing people why they need to worry about food waste, why they shouldn’t just dump it down the drain like they are used to.

“We have to explain that they just won’t get away with macerators and other lesser systems anymore, that there are trade effluent teams running around the country taking water samples who have the power to close businesses down.

“And rightly so – this is an environmental issue with serious consequences. Particularly given all the debate about paying for water at the moment; one of the reasons we have to fix Ireland’s pipes is because too much food waste was allowed to enter the system.