Swissvale startup Ecotone turns food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Swissvale startup Ecotone turns food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer

Food waste, from bananas that went brown on the kitchen counter to leftover salad that wilted in the fridge, often heads to landfills, where it decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that can be 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Ecotone Renewables, a startup based in Swissvale, hopes to change that for the Pittsburgh area.

Ecotone Renewables is re-opening in a new Swissvale location on Sat., March 27, from noon to 4 p.m. During the launch, people can tour the facility in person or virtually and ask questions about the “Seahorse,” an anaerobic digester that can intake 385 pounds of food waste per week and turn it into 50 gallons of fertilizer, which they call “soil sauce.” The methane gas produced is also used to generate electricity.

The startup began as an Aquaponic project at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. A year later, the company was founded by seven members from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University. Ecotone Renewables has previously operated out of Downtown and East Liberty, and in each neighborhood they work to support local agriculture initiatives through donating their fertilizer and expertise on hydroponics.


The team currently has four acting members working to create partnerships with local nonprofits and organizations such as 412 Food Rescue and East End Cooperative Ministry. They also worked with Sheridan Orchards and Repair the World to donate fertilizer for their garden use.

“Part of our mission is to uplift and support local agriculture projects,” says Ecotone COO Kyle Wyche. “We look to provide a service to local businesses so that they can sustainably dispose of their food waste.”

The Seahorse can process all vegetables, meat, bread, and small cooked bones, and community members can drop off their food waste starting April 1. “Soil sauce” is also available for purchase on Ecotone Renewables’ website. The reopening event on March 27 will also give community members to tour the facility either in person or virtually.
Ecotone Renewables Swissvale Launch, March 27, 12-4 p.m. 7560 Roslyn St., Swissvale. Free

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