ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

Cash from Fish Trash

A friend alterted me to this story about an organic fertilizer start-up, Pacific Gro, which was founded by Jim Brackins four years ago, when he was 67.

He gets fish waste from seafood companies in Seattle that typically utilize, at best, 52% of the fish carcass. The remainder -- the guts, gills, skin, bones, fat and scales -- goes into the garbage, but rather than waste them Brackins picks the stuff up. “The name of the game in the industry is 100 percentutilization,” he is quoted as saying. “Everybody wants and strives to use 100 percent of the resource so there is no waste."

The article explains how he processes the fish waste into fertilizer then sells it to organic and conventional farmers.

Pacific Gro’s wet organic fish fertilizer is being used on 70,000 acres of Idaho farmland and Brackins recently secured a contract with Horizon Organic Dairy, the country’s largest organic dairy, in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 2009, Brackins will process 6.5 million pounds of fish waste, enough for 650,000 gallons of fertilizer, and hopes to expand his acreage by 25 percent.

This reminded me of another story I recently read that took a new look at China's oft-sited pollution troubles. It mentioned how greening is being viewed as a business opportunity and told the story of China's "Queen of Trash," Cheung Yan, reputed to be the nation's richest woman.

Ten years ago, when China stopped logging its own natural forests to prevent a recurrence of big floods, she anticipated a paper shortage. She went to the U.S. and drove around in an old pick-up begging municipal garbage dumps to sell her their waste paper. She was so successful that today her company, Nine Dragons, ships more than 6 million ton of waste paper a year into China, which she recycles into boxes for electronics goods that will be taking the next container ship back to Europe and North America. Nine Dragons is now the world’s largest manufacturer of packaging.

Talk about cash from trash. Notwithstanding the debate over packaging, the point is: there is no waste -- only a resource stream -- and to those that see waste as a resource belong the spoils.
- Samuel Fromartz

image: flickr photo