From left to right; Jennifer Thompson, SSV, Louie Pellegrini Cofounder SAFE,
Bruce Naegel, SSV, Michelle Marin, SSV
Lauren Swezey. Facebook, Cindy Clark, SSV

SAFE stands for Sustainable Alternative Feed Enterprises.  So, the SAFE process recycles food scraps and creates products with demand within the US.   Unlike other recycling segments, this is a bright spot in the recycling industry.  For decades the recycling industry standard practice sends materials to China. Recently, China slowed and nearly stopped importing recycled materials. So, that business model is no longer viable. Recycling food scraps is different becausemarkets are all domestic. 

Isn’t food scraps recycling old and messy?

First, food scrap recycling has a long history and is successful today. However, other processes are messy and smelly. These processes have a NIMBY factor (Not In My Back Yard).  SAFE addresses these problems. 


SAFE process large tank and centrifuge for processing FOG

So, what is the SAFE process?

First, the  SAFE process  includes two pathogen destruction steps. This ensures product Safety. The first uses a time and temperature process. The second is a USDA-recognized mechanical pathogen destruction process This process kills bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.  The the SAFE process  includes three steps:

Step 1: SAFE Specialized Residential Collection:

The resident receives a garbage container with two compartments. One is for food scraps and the other is for non-recyclable garbage. Food scraps may be placed into standard plastic bags prior to placing the materials into the container. Food scraps include:

  • Meats and bones
  • Seafood
  • Beans and nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread, pasta, and rice
  • Eggs, cheese, and other dairy products
  • Coffee grounds/coffee filter and tea leaves/bags

All other non-recyclable waste goes into the garbage side of the container.

The SAFE process also accepts source separated food waste from commercial establishments such as restaurants. Commercial collection uses standard plastic bag. These are much better for holding food scraps. The SAFE separation process removes plastic bags during a screening process.

 Step 2:            The SAFE process and mash

The SAFE process second step converts food scraps into liquid (mash).  Liquid mash can easily be transported by tanker truck.  Raw mash also naturally has a very low pH. This prevents odors and degrading the mash.

The SAFE process concentrates the mas compared to the food scraps from the collection trucks. So, one tanker run transports concentrate from many collection trucks. This means each collection truck travels fewer miles. This saves energy, fuel, and cuts pollution.

SAFE processing eqipment
More SAFE processing equipment


Step 3:             SAFE process Dehydration.

The SAFE process separates the water and FOG (Fats, Oil and Grease) from the solids.

  • SAFE discharges the process water into the sanitary sewer. However, the Company is investigating bolt-on technologies to reclaim the water. This water can be used for industrial purposes, such as equipment and facility cleaning. One ton of processed mash yields. 200 gallons of water.
  • FOG represents 2 to 4 percent of the food scrap waste. FOG is processed into bio-diesel. It is also an add back for some animal feed formulations.
  • The main SAFE  process component for sale is the dry meal.
    • Sending meal to a landfill has financial benefit. SAFE reduces the volume and stabilizes the content. This reduces the landfill tip fee and extends the life of the landfill.
    • A higher benefit product is to convert it to animal feed and sell the FOG to produce bio-diesel. This produces revenue of approximately $500 per ton. Animal feed markets are based on commodities markets. Prices can change daily.
    • Pet treats is an even higher value market and is under development. SAFE is exploring this model with pet food manufacturers. Revenues associated with SAFE’s pet treat ingredient is projected to generate as much as $2000 per ton. However, this project is still under development.
  • SAFE is interested in exploring uses which may include food supplements for people.

What is great about the SAFE process?

  • The SAFE process fits in many industrial environments. It has a small equipment footprint. SAFE does not need special permitting and SAFE has a reduced NIMBY factor.
  • The SAFE process can be easily placed in urban environments. This reduces transportation time and the associated carbon emissions. In contrast, most composting facilities must be situated in less urban areas. These locations require significant vehicle miles traveled. This results in added air pollution.
  • Food for animals and protein supplements will always be in demand.
  • SAFE’s system creates food for animals. So, SAFE ranks higher on the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy than the outputs from anaerobic digestion or composting.
  • SAFE process products are only marketed domestically.
  • The demand for these products grows as the population grows. There is an increasing worldwide shortage of protein.
  • The SAFE process can create high value products like animal treats.


Who is using the SAFE process today?


Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and Stanford are processing their food scraps with the SAFE process. Other communities and organizations are making inquiries as word gets out.


Who should an organization contact if they want more information on SAFE?

–           Who at SAFE do they write to?

Louie Pellegrini, Co-Founder: or
Nicole Rinauro, Board Member:

Web Site: