Resiliency Means Not Letting Anything Go to Waste

How Reinford Farms Turns Waste Into Energy

At Rubicon®, we believe it is important to highlight every aspect of our work, from the men and women who manage our waste and recycling, to our customers as they take the lead in the fight against COVID-19, to our city partners as they tackle the war on waste.

Last year, shortly before launching a line of perishable food products, a large national variety store chain approached us wanting to learn more about our organics recycling offerings. Up to that point, Rubicon had primarily worked with the customer on plastics, paper, and cardboard recycling. But the retailer understood that selling fresh food would present a different challenge.

Prior to launching their line of perishable food products, the discount chain had only been selling packaged food. Their distributors would drop-ship the food items to them and take away expired product. After launching, the company became responsible for doing something with their expired products, including expired milk—a special challenge.

Rubicon to the Rescue

Data taken from Rubicon’s 2019 ESG report. Click to enlarge.

The customer turned to Rubicon for help. Recycling expired milk involves significant cost, but the company’s leaders were adamant that they would not allow the product to be poured down the drain.

Working in partnership, Rubicon created a program in which the expired milk gets picked up by Pennsylvania-based Reinford Farms. This milk undergoes a process called anaerobic digestion, which breaks it down into two substances—biogas and digestate.

The biogas that comes from this process can generate electricity for Reinford Farms’ full 1,300 acres, with enough energy to spare to sell back to the local electric company and power 500 homes.

Digestate is a nutrient-rich substance that can be applied to land as a natural fertilizer, improving yields and the ability of plants on that land to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. In 2019, we sent 4,134 tons of milk to Reinford Farms, avoiding 2,414 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—comparable to the greenhouse gas emissions of 521 passenger vehicles driven for one year.

Earlier this year, just before the COVID-19 public health emergency became prevalent in the United States, I traveled to Pennsylvania to meet up with Brett Reinford, Manager of Reinford Farms, to speak with him about the founding of his farm, as well as Reinford’s day-to-day operations:

To learn more about Rubicon’s work transforming the entire category of waste and recycling, be sure to download our inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.

If you have any questions about how to start an organics program at your business, you can reach out to Rubicon’s Sustainability team directly at sustainability@rubicon.com, or contact our sales team at (844) 479-1507.


Ryan Cooper is a Waste Diversion Manager and the Organics Recycling Lead at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.

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