This post is a part of our People’s Insights monthly brief for November, called “Disrupt, or be Disrupted.”
To fulfill its mission to provide the best possible ice cream in the nicest way possible, Ben & Jerry’s goes beyond ethical sourcing. The ice cream maker is also finding more productive ways to manage its waste.
Over the past two years, Ben & Jerry’s has been testing a machine that converts waste products into “GreEnergy.” Ben & Jerry’s partnered with biotechnology company Paques to install a bio-digester at its ice cream factory in the Netherlands.
The tank, which it calls The Chunkinator, contains 24 billion natural micro-organisms. It feeds on waste cream, fats, oils and waste water, and with the help of the micro-organisms, breaks these down into biogas. This gas is then used to power creation of more ice cream.
According to Ben & Jerry’s:
“The innovation comes from wastewater streams that contain fat and oil being treated in one compact reactor, together with the degradable particles—whereas in conventional systems this is only possible by going through a number of processing stages.”
In a year and a half of trials, The Chunkinator converted half of all waste products and all the waste water into enough energy to create 16 million pints of ice cream.