My favorite business ideas generate serious cash while doing right by people and the environment. ORCA is just such an idea.
First, some background.
Our daughter came home from middle school a few years ago and told us, “We should start composting.”
I knew she was right. The United States throws away 98 billion pounds of food each year. Most of it is trucked to landfills. In addition to the fuel consumed and emissions produced in transporting this waste, decomposing food creates methane (a greenhouse gas).
Not only is food waste removal environmentally damaging, it’s expensive. Americans spend approximately $1 billion annually to transport and dispose of discarded food.
So we built a primitive composting system in our backyard and cut our volume of refuse in half. We were proud of our effort to be green, but never did I see composting as a path to riches—until Boyd Rutherford called.
“The Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative (ORCA) offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution,” explained Rutherford, strategic advisor to Totally Green, the Tulsa, OK, manufacturer of ORCA. “It converts food waste and certain compostable products into gray water in as little as 24 hours using a proprietary microorganism solution and Bio Chips.”
The end result of the process is a rich liquid that is clean enough to be used for crop irrigation or drained into a municipal sewer system, according to Rutherford, a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he had various environmental and sustainability leadership responsibilities.
Picture a bio-mechanical stomach that looks like a commercial ice machine and you pretty much have it. The machines cost approximately $29,000 to $49,000 each; “GSA Schedule pricing is lower,” said Rutherford.
I had to ask, does it smell? Does it give off heat?
“No odors, no insects, no rodents and very little heat,” said Rutherford.
Forty ORCAs have been installed and several more are on order by a large cruise ship line.
“Right now, two military bases are evaluating our machines, and early feedback is very positive. The Pentagon is interested in reducing waste flow both domestically and overseas. A successful evaluation could lead to full-scale deployment,” said Rutherford.
“Hospitals, universities, cruise ships, military bases and other organizations with large dining operations see benefits in implementing ORCA,” said Rutherford.
View video of ORCA in operation.