GrubTubs turns food waste into animal feed   Gloria Dawson  | Mar 12, 2018  For Robert Olivier, it started with a grub. The larvae of the black soldier fly is no ordinary grub though, he stresses. It’s a super grub of sorts. Or at least, it’s a super recycler. And Olivier is on a quest to harness the grub’s power to reduce food waste.  Through his business, GrubTubs, Olivier puts those mighty grubs to work on wasted food gathered from restaurant, hotel, and corporate kitchens. Those grubs eat the food waste and then the company brings the grubs to local farms where they become food for chickens and pigs. Ultimately, those chickens or pigs could end up on back in the kitchen, and the cycle starts all over again.    But before the cycle could begin, Olivier had to get restaurants’ buy-in first.  “In order for me to use nature’s most powerful recycling organism, the black soldier grub, we actually have to listen to the restaurants and come up with a system that people would use,” he said.  Food waste is a big issue for restaurants. It’s an environmental problem, of course,but also a financial one. Hauling trash away can cost restaurants a hefty fee. But for GrubTubs to haul away two tons of organic waste per month costs about $300.  Reducing food waste is particularly important for operators in cities like Austin, Texas, where restaurants are required to have programs to divert or reduce organic waste sent to landfills. For now, GrubTubs only operates in Austin, where the company is based, but plans to expand first to other metropolitan areas with organic-waste diversion ordinances.  For restaurants, collecting food waste also means dealing with unpleasant odors and attracting pests. Olivier considered these issues when creating his tubs with airtight, spill-proof lids. These lids also help ensure that none of the nutrients are lost before the waste is fed to the grubs.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Operators place GrubTubs throughout the restaurant — prep kitchen, dishwashing station or anywhere that food has to be thrown away. Once a tub is filled, operators seal it and place it outside for pickup. The company replaces tubs with empty, clean and sanitized ones.  While food waste is a concern for restaurant owners and chefs, a big selling point for GrubTubs is the “kitchen-to-chicken” angle.  “The conversation started with food first,” said Derek Salkin, the executive chef at Austin-based restaurant Le Politique, one of the first restaurant to work with GrubTubs.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     “The idea was turn it into food for animals, and then eventually those animals that are eating the restaurant waste would end up on the plate,” said Salkin. “It sounds really simple, but it’s an opportunity for chefs to curate their own menu experience.”  Working with GrubTubs “made a lot of sense, especially if we were going to have the opportunity to work with someone raising chickens and eggs and pigs for us,” he added.  Ty Burk, of Westfold Farm, is one of those local farmers working with GrubTubs.  He’ll soon be selling grub-fed heritage birds to restaurants in Austin.   Burk calls the process “table-to-farm-to-table.” And he finds that feeding grubs to chickens is sustainable on a few levels —  the grubs are a more-affordable alternative to organic feed.  For Selkin, beyond the appeal of local heritage chickens and less garbage — “The trash can is very light these days,” he said — using GrubTubs helped the chef see how much food his restaurant wasted.  “As an operator, it makes you really starkly aware of what goes in the trash and what organic waste you’re putting in the tubs themselves,” he said. “It got our gears turning as chefs and what we could do to minimize what ends up in the tubs.”  And ultimately, that’s what Olivier’s mission is all about.  “When we look at food waste, we realize that whenever we waste something, someone loses,” said Olivier. And “it’s only when we provide a total solution to food that we are starting to see a total shift away from landfill.”     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The grubs are placed into these

GrubTubs turns food waste into animal feed

Gloria Dawson | Mar 12, 2018 | Restaurant Hospitality

For Robert Olivier, it started with a grub. The larvae of the black soldier fly is no ordinary grub though, he stresses. It’s a super grub of sorts. Or at least, it’s a super recycler. And Olivier is on a quest to harness the grub’s power to reduce food waste.

Through his business, GrubTubs, Olivier puts those mighty grubs to work on wasted food gathered from restaurant, hotel, and corporate kitchens. Those grubs eat the food waste and then the company brings the grubs to local farms where they become food for chickens and pigs. Ultimately, those chickens or pigs could end up on back in the kitchen, and the cycle starts all over again.  

SX Startups: GrubTubs Transforms Waste

The Forrest Four-Cast: February 28, 2018

At the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event on March 10 and 11, 50 diverse startups will attempt to wow a panel of judges with their skills, creativity and innovation. Winners in each of 10 categories will be honored at the Accelerator Award Ceremony at 7 pm Sunday, March 11, at the Hilton Austin, Salon AB. Network with all the finalists from 11 am to 1:30 pm on Monday, March 12, at SXSW Accelerator Demo Day, at the Hilton Austin, Salon C. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event (as well as the Demo Day) takes place within the Startup & Tech Sectors track of programming.

A finalist in the Hyper-Connected Communities Technology category , the Austin-based company GrubTubs solves for the overabundance of food waste from restaurants by creating nutrient-rich animal feed that is affordable for local family farms. By diverting waste from landfills and improving business economics for small farmers, GrubTubs is working to reimagine America’s food, energy and waste cycles. See them pitch at 5 pm on Saturday, March 10, in the Hilton Austin, Salon AB. Robert Olivier, GrubTubs CEO, answered our questions.

      TWO AUSTIN COMPANIES COMPETE FOR FOOD+CITY CHALLENGE PRIZE  BIG WHEELBARROW AND GRUBTUBS WILL VIE FOR A PRIZE DURING THIS YEAR'S SXSW  BY MEGAN KIMBLE | Austin Monthly   Published: February 28, 2018   People don’t pay enough attention to how food gets from one place to another. That’s the premise behind  Food+City , an Austin-based nonprofit working to improve how we feed cities. “The food supply chain is really hidden from the consumer,” says Cole Leslie, a communications specialist at Food+City. “It’s hidden in plain sight.”  Food+City was founded in 2012 to support entrepreneurs developing solutions in food transportation, logistics, and storage, with a focus on technology over products. In addition to publishing a biannual magazine, Food+City sponsors a yearly prize to inspire change in food logistics, awarded this month at  South by Southwest  for the first time. After receiving 90 applications from companies in 14 different countries, Food+City invited 15 finalists to SXSW for the chance to win up to $50,000 in cash and business development services. Two Austin-based companies are finalists, and they’ve been honing their pitches.    Big Wheelbarrow    Ninety percent of the food we eat in the United States comes from a wholesaler—a food service company or distributor that supplies food, usually grown on a commodity farm, to grocery stores and restaurants. Small farmers across the U.S., unable to access these larger institutional markets and dependent on labor-intensive direct sales, are struggling to stay in business. Meanwhile consumers increasingly want to eat food grown locally.  Enter Big Wheelbarrow, a software company that helps wholesalers work with small farms. “Buyers want local product,” says Sam Eder, Big Wheelbarrow’s co-founder. “They just can’t justify the resources it takes to work with small growers.”  The heart of Big Wheelbarrow is a conversational artificial intelligence–based chat-bot that responds via SMS text messaging—an important feature for farmers working in the field without access to the internet. The bot communicates with farmers to figure out what they’re growing, when it’ll be available, and how much it’s selling for. Buyers can see the real-time availability of local products, and the app automates simultaneous orders to multiple producers, helping with seamless delivery. “Nothing screws up a buyer more than a farmer not being able to deliver what they promised on time,” Eder says. “It happens a lot with small farmers.”  By coordinating within the larger network, Big Wheelbarrow can alleviate the impact on retailers. The company works with more than 40 farms located within 70 miles of Austin, but it will soon bring on wholesalers that work with growers within a 250-mile radius. Eder says that if his company wins the challenge prize at SXSW, it will use the money and support to expand Big Wheelbarrow to San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. “We know we’re able to move the needle for our farmers,” he says. “Restaurants love what they get, and wholesalers are able to expand their capacity to source locally, because we’re automating the un-fun parts of working with local farms.”     GrubTubs    Chickens eat insects. Insects eat food scraps. Food scraps pile up in restaurants. Restaurants, for the most part, pay to have their food waste hauled to the landfill, where it decays and emits greenhouse gases like methane.  In this non-virtuous cycle, Robert Olivier saw an opportunity. He has been working to get food waste out of landfills since 1999, when he was a freshman in college and realized the potential of grubs—black soldier flies, specifically—to gobble bins full of food waste in as little as 24 hours (most composting setups require weeks to break down food).  GrubTubs started in 2017 with two Austin restaurants: Le Politique and G’Raj Mahal. The food-grade “grub tubs”—6.5-gallon buckets—are set up at kitchen stations, handy for cooks busy chopping, peeling, and discarding. The buckets are lined with lactobacillus (the same bacteria found in yogurt). Once food waste is hermetically sealed inside, it begins to ferment, effectively preserving it until it gets to the farm—and to the hungry grubs.  By feeding chickens the harvested insects instead of commercially produced organic soy, poultry producers can cut their feed costs nearly in half—a farmer raising 1,000 birds would save $1,000 a month, according to GrubTubs. “It’s the ability to start thinking about food as its own waste stream,” Olivier says. “Or better yet, as its own resource.”  Half the food waste in Austin’s landfills comes from restaurants and groceries. That’ll change in October, when a city ordinance will ban all businesses with a food permit from sending organic waste to the landfill. The Food+City challenge comes at a good time, as GrubTubs is scaling up. Twenty restaurants were expected to be using GrubTubs by this month, allowing the company to collect more food waste to grow more insects to feed more chickens—to lay more eggs. The ultimate goal, says Olivier, is for farmers to be able to sell those eggs back to the restaurants that feed their chickens, thus completing the now-virtuous cycle. 

BIG WHEELBARROW AND GRUBTUBS WILL VIE FOR A PRIZE DURING THIS YEAR'S SXSW

BY MEGAN KIMBLE | Austin Monthly

People don’t pay enough attention to how food gets from one place to another. That’s the premise behind Food+City, an Austin-based nonprofit working to improve how we feed cities. “The food supply chain is really hidden from the consumer,” says Cole Leslie, a communications specialist at Food+City. “It’s hidden in plain sight.”

Food+City was founded in 2012 to support entrepreneurs developing solutions in food transportation, logistics, and storage, with a focus on technology over products. In addition to publishing a biannual magazine, Food+City sponsors a yearly prize to inspire change in food logistics, awarded this month at South by Southwest for the first time. After receiving 90 applications from companies in 14 different countries, Food+City invited 15 finalists to SXSW for the chance to win up to $50,000 in cash and business development services. Two Austin-based companies are finalists, and they’ve been honing their pitches.

      SXSW Accelerator Preview: From Table To Farm, GrubTubs Is Making The Most Of Food Waste  SXSW Startup: GrubTubs Uses Restaurant Food Waste To Support Local Farmers  February 14, 2018  Nibletz.com, by  Jeff Thomas   Farm to table is all the rage.  Restaurants serving meat, poultry and vegetables from local farmers have quickly become some of the most popular restaurants in the country. This rise in popularity is helping one big part of the farming industry.  The biggest cost in the farming industry is animal feed. Even with the rise in popularity of farm to table restaurants, direct to home produce and farmer’s markets, many family farmers are reinvesting their revenue right into animal feed. Also, animal feed is a big burden on farm acreage. Animal feed takes up around 70% of the farm acreage.  At the same time, American’s waste an estimated 133 billion pounds of food annually. Wasted food ends up in landfills where it can have a negative impact on the environment.  What if there was a way to help cut back some of this wasted food and solve the animal feed problem at the same time?  That’s exactly what GrubTubs does.  Local restaurants put their food waste in clean GrubTub containers. They then stack their containers up nice and neatly outside the restaurant where a GrubTubs truck picks them up. The food waste is then delivered to the farm where it’s used to harvest protein-rich insects, by the millions, that become a high quality food source for chickens, pigs and fish. Animals actually prefer these insects, called Grubs” over other animal feed.  GrubTubs is the first startup to close the farming circle completely by bringing wasted food back to the farm for feed. GrubTubs recently won the top prize in the Austin, WeWork Creator Awards.  GrubTubs is a top 50 2018 SXSW Accelerator finalist. You can find out more about them at SXSW Interactive, March 5-9th and online at  grubtubs.com

SXSW Startup: GrubTubs Uses Restaurant Food Waste To Support Local Farmers

Nibletz.com, by Jeff Thomas

The biggest cost in the farming industry is animal feed. Even with the rise in popularity of farm to table restaurants, direct to home produce and farmer’s markets, many family farmers are reinvesting their revenue right into animal feed. Also, animal feed is a big burden on farm acreage. Animal feed takes up around 70% of the farm acreage.

At the same time, American’s waste an estimated 133 billion pounds of food annually. Wasted food ends up in landfills where it can have a negative impact on the environment.

What if there was a way to help cut back some of this wasted food and solve the animal feed problem at the same time?

That’s exactly what GrubTubs does.

Food+City Challenge Prize 2018

GrubTubs is proud to announce our inclusion as a finalist in the Food+City Challenge Prize in Austin this March!

The fourth annual Food+City Prize competition will be at SXSW for the first time since its creation.  Applicants from five continents and fourteen countries applied for consideration by the esteemed group of advisors, judges and mentors leading the Food+City committee. Of these applicants, the top 15 companies were chosen as finalists to present on-stage during SXSW. These finalists represent a diverse range of logistical solutions and come from all stages of development.  From Puerto Rico to Africa, idea-stage to scale-stage, these 15 supply chain startups will pitch at SXSW in March 2018 for the chance to win up to $50,000 in prizes.

These Could Save the World

These Could Save the World

WIRED | Myrna Chiu, August 4, 2017

Art by Diego Patiño

THERE’S THE MARVEL Universe, and then there’s the Larval Universe, and the star of the latter is the black soldier fly. In its squirmy maggot phase, it feasts on our messes—and can in turn be feasted on by farm-raised fish and fowl. Lucky grubs that reach winged adulthood live only a week, spending that time so frantically looking for sex that they don’t eat, sting, or bite. A true superhero, in other words, that sustainability ­conscious organizations are now eager to exploit.

Top Winners at Austin Creator Awards Announce ‘We’re Hiring’

Top Winners at Austin Creator Awards Announce ‘We’re Hiring’

WeWork | June 28, 2017 by Mark Sullivan

Grub Tubs, a pioneer of the growing “table to farm” movement, transforms restaurant leftovers into animal feed. Like most of the 18 winners at the event, Grub Tubs isn’t just about making a profit. It’s about making a difference in the world.