Redmond-based WISErg, a bioclean-technology company that converts food scraps into fertilizer, has raised $5 million in its latest round of funding.
To date, the 5-year-old company has raised $7.75 million and plans to use the new funds for continued development of its “Harvester” machine technology and expansion into California.
WISErg partners with grocery stores to change the way they recycle food scraps from the deli, meat, seafood and produce departments.
The Harvester extracts nutrients from those food scraps before they become waste. Those nutrients are then used to create a liquid fertilizer that can be sold to commercial farmers and individual consumers.
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Currently, the Harvester is installed in five grocery stores around the Puget Sound area, and 10 are under contract to be installed in the next three to six months, including Whole Foods Market, Town & Country markets, PCC Natural Markets and Red Apple Markets. PCC installed the first Harvester in its Issaquah store in 2012.
WISErg is also in discussions with national grocery chains and is scaling up its production from 25 machines a month to 40 in preparation for further expansion.
“When you start dealing with these national chains,” WISErg CEO Larry LeSueur said, “they are not looking for a one- or two-store solution.”
The average grocery store produces roughly 600 pounds of organic material on a daily basis, with larger stores producing up to 3,000 pounds, LeSueur said.
Because California alone has 3,000 grocery stores and a large agriculture presence, he said that state made the most sense for the first stage of expansion.
However, with the foundation of his company now built, and interest in using the Harvester increasing, things will start to move faster, he said.
“There is a perfect storm in our society of the quantity of food wasted … and the desire to solve it,” he said.
Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @coralgarnick