Arnon reduces waste to a single bag of biomass

Date: 12 September 2016

Introduction: Kathleen Vinck (UAntwerpen) designs Arnon, a machine for sorting waste in the catering industry.

Hotel and catering businesses rarely separate their waste: food often ends up being thrown out with general waste. According to Kathleen Vinck (University of Antwerp), this is ecologically unacceptable. The result is Arnon, a device she designed to encourage food waste recycling.

“Separated organic waste is worth more when it is composted or fermented than when it is incinerated together with general waste. So by simply recycling food waste, we can make waste more useful”, explains Kathleen Vinck, a Product Development student. “But recycling is the sticking point in large hotel and catering businesses, where piles of food waste are thrown away with general waste, often out of laziness, lack of space or for economic reasons. That’s why I started thinking of a way to collect and process food waste on site."

The result is Arnon: a machine for doing just that. The process begins by dividing the food waste into fractions. Water left over from washing dishes is re-used to facilitate this process. After the waste has been fractionated, the remaining liquid is extracted by centrifugation and then discharged.

“There are many advantages to this method,” says Vinck. “Bad smells are eliminated, maintenance is limited and hygiene is optimised. But it’s also advantageous from an economic point of view: the amount of waste being produced is smaller, meaning businesses have to pay less to get rid of it. And because of this reduced waste output, CO2 emissions caused by waste collection are reduced as well. In addition, the biomass Arnon produces is suitable for use in composting processes. It’s a win-win situation no matter how you look at it.”

The idea is to install Arnon in the dishwashing area of a kitchen and integrate it seamlessly into the existing workflow. “Both leftovers from the dining room and larger amounts of waste from food preparation can be fed into the top of the machine. The biomass comes out at the bottom and is collected in a disposable bag suitable for composting. A single bag can hold all of the biomass produced by a medium-sized restaurant in one day.”