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Meet the Machine That's Turning Grocery Stores' Food Waste Into Fertilizer A pair of seasoned tech workers are helping to solve a $165 billion problem.

By Jenna Schnuer

This story appears in the June 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

José Mandojana
Putting waste to work: WISErg’s Jose Lugo (left) and Larry LeSueur.

Larry LeSueur is used to former peers from the software world asking him, "What the heck are you doing?" It's a reasonable question, considering the decidedly different turn he and his former Microsoft colleague Jose Lugo took in 2010 when they founded Redmond, Wash.-based WISErg, anxious to solve the growing problem of food waste in America.

That's right—the duo went from high-tech to food scraps, hoping to address the fact that 40 percent of food in the U.S.—about $165 billion worth per year—goes uneaten, with most ending up in landfills, according to a 2012 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Though the grocery industry recognized the problem, nobody could really explain why it was happening. "I said, let's first and foremost try to understand why food waste was being generated. If I can understand it, we can figure out what we can do to alter behavior," LeSueur says.

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