Dec 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM CST
To help reach the goal, the city's Office of Innovation decided to let the public weigh in on how to decrease waste with the [Re]verse Pitch competition.
"A challenge-prize structure has been done at a federal level, offering a financial incentive for local entrepreneurs to solve a problem, but this was the first time we did it at the city," said Lance McNeill, Consultant for the City of Austin Office of Innovation.
A group of companies told social entrepreneurs what they were throwing away.
"For example, hops and grain from their brewery production, has a lot of spent grain. Goodwill has a truck load of wicker baskets every month that they can't use, can't sell," explained McNeill, "and so a lot of these things end up in our waste stream."
Twenty-seven entrepreneur teams made everything from compost to planters, but what Brandon Ward whipped up in his kitchen took home the grand prize.
"I heard the spent beer grain pitch and I really liked that," said Ward.
After breweries extract sugar from barley to make beer they're left with spent grain. It's usually used to feed cattle, but Ward and his team wanted to create something people can eat.
"It might not be appealing because you think of it, you know, for cows, but it's a human product. People have been eating barley for 10,000 years roughly," Ward said. "And so, hence Brewnola Bars was born!"
Ward spent countless hours in his kitchen and it took 70 variations of the recipe to get it just right.
"I went and made salsa bars, I made some Cajun spiced recipe ones. The first couple of iterations were not that appealing unfortunately," Ward admits. "So those ended up in the trash."
Wasabi and peanut butter have worked, and Ward is also perfecting salsa and barbecue flavors. The team wants to sell the them at bars as snack food. If all goes well, by next spring there will be less grain in the landfills and bar patrons will be snacking on Brewnola Bars.
Ward's team won $5,000 from the city to launch their business. If they can raise another $5,000 from investors, the city will match it.
The Office of Innovation hopes to hold the contest again next year.
Go here for more information on Brewnola Bars.
Go here for more information on the [Re]verse Pitch competition.