Paul Oliver

Paul Oliver Portrait JPEG

Paul Oliver

Agricultural Waste Management and Food Production

Paul Olivier began his career in mineral preparation in 1981, and he sold throughout the world more than 50 separators for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands. In 1986 he invented and patented a unique bi-directional dense medium separator which was first applied to the separation of a variety of root vegetables. The accuracy of separation here was so noteworthy that it drew the attention of plastic and non-ferrous metal recycling companies.

In 1990 he set up the first of eight large automobile and industrial waste recycling centers. This technology was not only used to recycle non-ferrous metals, but it was also used to prepare an organic stream clean enough to be used as an alternative fuel in cement kilns. The largest recycling companies in Western Europe, – NV Galloo, CFF Recycling and GDE Guy Dauphin Environment – have all bought this unique dense medium process. He later set up in 1997 a 25-million US dollars separation facility at Chaparral Steel in Midlothian, Texas.

In 1995 several trials were conducted in Belgium on 30,000 tons of municipal solid waste free of food waste, and once again, the results were noteworthy. A trash bin free of food waste separated with roughly the same accuracy as automobile and industrial waste. But the problem of what to do with source-separated food waste remained.

In 1997 while visiting his sister in Louisiana, Paul saw a compost bin that she had set up in her garden. There he saw thousands of larvae, some as long as one inch, eating food waste and reducing it to almost nothing within a period of just a few hours. These larvae were later identified as larvae of the black soldier fly. When Paul understood their migratory behavior in their mature prepupal form, he set about designing several types of bins to exploit this behavior.

In 2001 he invented the round bioconversion unit commonly referred to as a biopod. This device enables mature larvae to neatly self-harvest into a bucket without any mechanical or human intervention.

In 2010, Paul began designing top-lit updraft gasifiers for the gasification of rice hulls, coffee bean husks, and other types of low-grade agricultural biomass. He designed mesophilic storage and reduction units for biodegradable residential waste. With this simple technology, over 90% of the waste currently going to landfill in Vietnam can be profitably recycled. He also introduced true thermophilic composting using the simple and inexpensive technology of a compost fleece. Since most of rural Vietnam is not connected to sewage treatments plants, he promotes the use of urine-diverting toilets.

Paul believes that sustainability lies in the wise and efficient transformation of waste. He distinguishes four kinds of biodegradable solid waste, and when they are properly transformed, farmers are able to make their own fuel, feed and fertilizer. He believes that farmers should buy no bottled gas, no commercial feeds and no chemical fertilizers. He is now setting up sites that enable farmers to raise pigs, chickens and cows in an entirely unconventional way.

Here all feed is fermented and enriched with biochar. Pigs, chickens and cows are raised indoors on soft bedding. The bedding is sprayed each day with a probiotic liquid. Fecal material is removed each day from off the bedding and processed through the combined action of black soldier fly larvae and red worms. There is absolutely no odor. There are no flies. All of the physiological and behavioral needs of the pigs, chickens and cows are met (see An Unconventional Way of Raising Pigs, Chickens and Cows). Antibiotics, growth hormones and other pharmaceuticals are never used.

Paul believes that Vietnam should no longer be dependent on the fragile infrastructure of global trade. With the wise and efficient transformation of waste, a lot more jobs can be created and a lot more money can be made at the local level. The crass monetization and industrialization of agricultural inputs and products should be abolished. Large corporations that enslave small farmers through the sale of unsustainable and poisonous inputs should be shut out, along with traders peddling cheap subsidized feedstuffs that devastate local economies.

With the wise and efficient transformation of waste, food production increases. Food security is greatly enhanced. Transportation costs are minimized. Human health is not endangered. The environment does not suffer. And neither do pigs, chickens and cows.

In Vietnam Olivier designed and tested mesophilic storage units for source-separated biodegradable residential waste. This simple technology, in combination with scavenger recycling, makes it possible for as much as 90% of the waste currently going to landfill to be profitably recycled. He also introduced to Vietnam true thermophilic composting using the simple and inexpensive technology of a compost fleece or cover. He worked with the Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry in a program to recycle fruit and vegetable waste by means of lactic acid fermentation.

Since most of rural Vietnam is not connected to sewage treatments plants, he is promoting the use of urine-diverting toilets. He is also developing several methods to extract nutrients from human urine. He is setting up sites where pig farmers can recycle pig waste by means of larvae and red worms. This enables pig farmers to recover from this waste a significant percentage of the nutrients needed to nourish their pigs. With the additional input of fermented vegetables and vegetable waste, the pig farmer is able to operate in complete independence from feed companies.

Throughout all of his environmental endeavors, Dr. Olivier has always been self-employed. He has never been on the payroll of a company or university. He has never received grants or subsidies in the development of any of the environmental technologies he has promoted. Up until now he has always been able to utilize profits from one venture to fund research on behalf of the next. In a sense this has not been difficult achieve, for he has always viewed waste, in all of its many forms, as our single greatest resource.


Colleges attended and degrees:

M.A. Religious Studies, magna cum laude, 1973, Faculty of Theology, Louvain, Belgium

PH.D. Religious Studies, summa cum laude, 1992, Faculty of Theology, Louvain, Belgium

Professional positions:

Director and president of Braem Mineral Separation NV (Belgium) 1987-1993

Director and president of Engineering, Separation and Recycling NV (Belgium) 1993-1996

Director and President of E.S.R. Ltd. Co. (USA) 1996 to 2011


The Universe is One, Towards a Theory of Knowledge and Life, University Press of America, with Foreword by Isabelle Stengers: ISBN 0-7618-1437-X


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