Leaving No Molecule Behind: ‘Landfill of the Future’ Turns Farming Waste Into Soaps, Compost, and Candles

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Among sparsely populated communities in Newfoundland, a landfill for the future—where every molecule is accounted for and reused—is steadily growing its portfolio of circularly produced goods that utilize waste from the island’s forests, farms, and fisheries.

For clients, it’s just like any other landfill. They can go and dump whatever amount of biological waste that they have from their operations, and then drive off without ever needing to think about it again.

But for investors, for consumers, and for the world, 3F Waste Recovery is anything but ordinary.

“3F is founded on the principle that every molecule that comes through our door, we want to have an application for it,” Founder Ben Wiper explains to Hakai Magazine. “My vision is the landfill of the future—where producers can take anything they haven’t processed, to break it down into a form that has a function.”

Science has moved us into an increasingly molecularized world. It’s common to hear businesses accounting for things like protein or CO2, as if they’re counting assets, expenditures, or cash flow.

When a company has the technology to turn practically all kinds of biological waste into valuable consumer products, this accounting method becomes even more extreme. Every unit of lignin not burnt from a tree means one more unit of lignin needed from a tree that hasn’t been felled. Every unit of cod skin placed in a landfill is one more unit of cod skin needed from a living cod.

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