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A Closer Look E-mail the author

Renewable Biosystems, LLC
Peter Behrle • 973-227-5757

Peter Behrle

The recycling industry isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer good enough to recycle the easy stuff – now it’s about finding ways to extract value from material that would normally be landfilled.

That’s exactly what Renewable Biosystems is all about. The company has licensed a technology that extracts oil from organic waste material like animal offal, DAF sludge (from slaughterhouse wastewater), landfills and food waste from manufacturers.

The company doesn’t do the actual processing, but builds and engineers what its customers need to recover oil from those organic materials. Peter Behrle, the company CEO, said that some of that oil is already being reclaimed, but his technology makes it less expensive and more efficient.

In some cases, oil can be recovered from materials that were previously discarded. The DAF sludge is one example. That sludge, from slaughterhouses, is normally plowed into the ground. Behrle said this doesn’t add any nutrients to the soil – it’s just a method of disposal.

Berhle said that with his equipment, first the oil is removed from the DAF sludge. Depending on the sludge, up to 30 percent of it can be recoverable oil. Then the solids are reclaimed for use as compost. Last, the water is treated so it can be used at composting facilities.

Behrle licensed the technology to do the oil extraction from a British company, and that license allows Renewable Biosystems to use the technology throughout North America and the Caribbean. So for, one machine has been installed and more are in the works.

Behrle said that the company offers several options for potential customers, including revenue sharing and rental options, but that “it’s always financially beneficial” to the customer. Not only does the oil bring in revenue, but the process also lessens the cost of waste removal and disposal.

The oil that comes out of this process can be used for biodiesel, mixed into feed for livestock, or burned as fuel. Berhle said that the material is the consistency of corn oil, but the color varies depending on what material the oil was extracted from. The oil that comes from poultry processors is lighter in color than what comes from landfills, for example.

Behrle started the company about three years ago, after working in the biodiesel industry for many years. He said that when soybean prices went up in 2007 and that made feedstock for biodiesel more expensive, he decided that being in the feedstock business was better than being in the biodiesel industry.

He said that one thing that helps the biodiesel business – which in turn helps his business – is that the government’s renewable fuel standard requires that biodiesel must be blended into the fuel stream. This is much like the regulation that requires that ethanol must be blended into gasoline. This year, 1 billion gallons of biodiesel will be blended into diesel fuel.

Renewable Biosystems currently has five employees and partners with a nearby firm for engineering needs. Behrle said he has spent a lot of time getting financing for the business, but now “it’s getting pretty darned exciting” as the financing stages are winding down and the business is “in transition from a startup to an operational company.”

He said, “I’m recycling interesting things that would normally be thrown away,” but the big challenge is that he’s introducing a brand-new technology to the U.S. He said it can be difficult to get large companies to change their ways, but that’s completely understandable because “they have other things on their minds.”

The challenge is also one of the things he likes best. “Everything we do is new,” he said. “We have to figure out what people haven’t figured out before.”