A New Club Is Using Food Waste to Generate Energy

And yes, there's a 3D printer that will turn your recycled waste into a phone case or furniture.

Apr 8 2017, 3:45pm

This article was first published in Dutch on MUNCHIES NL

Among the fruit markets of Rotterdam, in a massive warehouse, a new club is about to open its doors. At the appropriately named De Fruithaven (The Fruit Harbor), you will find interactive art, science, and a lot of big dance parties with major artists like Benny Rodrigues, Paul Woolford and Bambounou. But what makes this club really special is its zero-waste policy. De Fruithaven is the first Dutch zero-waste club and this might just be the concept of the future. We recently stopped by to ask the founder and director some questions about the club's ideology, 3D printers, generating energy from waste, and making the world a better place while dancing.

The concept was created by Gilbert Curtessi, whose grandmother raised him to be very conscious of food waste. With that in mind, he founded Sugu Warehouse, a branch of the former power company E:ON, where young and experienced creators are all concerned with sustainability. Apart from this creative space, there is also an area reserved for dining as well as organizing workshops.

Curtessi created De Fruithaven in collaboration with Fela Donker, the director of the club, who is also the programmer of the Sugar Factory club. Not long after they met, it became clear that their ideas matched perfectly, Donker says: "We aim for the Sunday festival vibe of Thuishaven combined with the theatricality of Shoeless and the look of De School in Amsterdam. You can't really find a lot of this in Rotterdam so we're just filling a gap." The name Fruit Harbor is inspired by the location between the fruit markets, but it also embodies the fruit-colored atmosphere of the club, and raw aesthetic similar to a wholesale market.

READ MORE: Why Most of Us Just Don't Care About Food Waste

Four rooms will be used for festivals, science, and dance parties that will go on into the early hours, and just outside the club, a beach will be created called Zandbar. If all goes well, the owners also want to organize more culturally minded evenings and lectures. 

Soon you'll be able to dance here, next to a 3D-printed bar. All photos by Laisa Maria.

What Curtessi said drives the club is his dedication to bringing awareness to food waste: "It's a very big problem. When you look at it on a macro level, you will see that 50 percent of what we produce gets thrown away. That means 20 percent of all energy production worldwide goes into food: land cultivation, packaging, washing, transport, cooking, whatever."

The entire warehouse works to avoid waste and to recycle. The club runs on green power generated by the solar panels on the roof or from leftover food. For the latter, Curtessi has an electric truck to collect fruit and vegetable waste from local restaurants and fruit importers. He puts the waste into bio fermenters in order to distill biogas (methane), and organic fertilizer. By doing it this way, the restaurants don't pay any charge for the waste, but instead buy back the biogas for their own use.

The bio fermenter that turns waste into energy is from China.

But only biogas is not enough for Curtessi. "You can get much more out of waste than just biogas," he says. So besides the bio fermenter for biogas, the club has a bio fermenter that produces plastic from waste. This plastic goes into the 3D printer and is used to design objects such as vases and furniture.

READ MORE: This Machine Is Turning Food Waste Into Organic Produce

The 3D printer is ready to run.

Everything in the club runs on a circular design. The food is cooked on gas and the waste goes into the fermenter and can be reused as plastic. Nothing gets wasted. Even the bar where you can order your drinks is made with the 3D printer.

In the club, two rooms will be used as science labs. And yes, there will be a small robot and someone in a white coat ready to create objects out of your empty beer bottles. The plastic will be shredded and the waste will be transformed into objects like coffee cups or phone case.

"While the world is just going to hell, we want to show young people that recycling is a lot of fun," says Donker. I can't blame him. What better way to make recycling fun than on a thumping dance floor?