Tag Archives: Diverting Food Waste

Reduce Food Waste

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Following the People’s Climate March and Climate Week we should be thinking about what we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. One of these solutions is to reduce food waste.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, but another gas – methane – is far more potent and has an intimate relationship with your dinner plate. Methane is 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide and 18 percent of its emission in the US comes from food and other organic material decomposing in landfills.

In a food waste report from the National Resources Defense Council, Dana Gunders estimates that 40% of food goes uneaten in the US. Less wasted food will cut landfill emissions, save you money on buying, preparing and discarding less food, help conserve energy and resources that go into producing food in the first place and help fight climate change.

Recognizing the benefits from reducing food waste and diverting food from landfills, some states have established aggressive initiatives, and in some cases mandates, that will cause big wasters to find a solution for their food waste, one that does not include landfill. As similar mandates start springing up across the country because of limited landfill capacity or emission reduction goals only a few solutions exist that have proven to be cost-effective and scalable.

BioHitech America identified this problem more than 8 year ago and has since evolved their Eco-Safe Digester  to be more than just an on-site aerobic digester. It has smart technology on board that transmits data about what is being wasted in order to make sure it is not wasted a second time.

Reducing food waste is a simple solution to reducing greenhouse gasses and reducing your carbon footprint.

There is Quite a Bit of Energy in Bananas

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As school starts back up in a just a few weeks, the children at Public School 30 on Staten Island will once again be asked to dump their uneaten bananas into a bin in the back of their cafeteria.

New York City’s school composting program, kicked off just two years ago, is now in 230 school buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and is expected to more than double in size and reach all five boroughs in the fall, with an ultimate goal of encompassing all 1,300-plus school buildings.

The sad voyage of fruits and vegetables from lunch lady to landfill has frustrated parents, nutritionists and environmentalists for decades. Children are still as picky and wasteful as ever, but at least there is now a happier ending — that banana-filled bin is a composting container, part of a growing effort to shrink the mountains of perfectly good food being hauled away to trash heaps every year.

Much of food waste stream is a result of nutrition rules that require every child to be served healthy food, and health rules that ban re-serving unwrapped food once it has been placed on a lunch tray, for fear of contamination.

Depending on where the school is, the uneaten and half-eaten leftovers are sent to a compost heap at a former Staten Island landfill or 123 miles away to Delaware. The 123 mile trip is far too long of a trip to turn the food waste into compost, so the city will begin sending some of those scraps to a wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn, where “digesters” will turn garbage into usable gas.

The Eco-Safe Digester offers two additional benefits to this proposed solution at the Brooklyn facility, eliminating the logistical nightmares with transporting the scraps by pre-sorting and pre-digesting the food waste into a liquid and providing key data to help guide changes to future nutrition rules.

Depending on viewpoint, the sheer amount of school food now being composted is either impressive or depressing not to mention the transportation-related energy consumption, the economics of transportation, and the environmental impacts surrounding composting.

The hope is that by diverting the waste from landfill, the city will help the environment, instill a sense of conservation in schoolchildren and, critically, save some money. The city currently pays $93 per ton to dump in landfills.

The idea of sending scraps to local wastewater treatment facilities to where “digesters” will turn the food waste into useable gas sounds far less complicated, more economical, and a better option for the environment.

just the right thing to do

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just the right thing to do 

Recycling is good business practice.  When we throw organics away, we are wasting a valuable easily accessible production material.  It’s woefully inefficient and, frankly, just bad business to treat food waste as trash.  Recycling creates jobs.  Recycling our waste creates more than twice as many jobs as when we dump it in the landfill.  Many of the jobs associated with an expanded organics infrastructure are sustainable, because these facilities must be built and operated locally.  Recycling produces clean domestic energy.  In the US only a handful of these facilities are currently in operation.

Diverting food waste from landfills provides a boost to recycling.  
Diversion is more achievable than you think.
Doing nothing is an AWFUL choice. 

SAVINGS, Up-Front and Long-Term

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An up-front savings to the environment and a long-term savings to your bottom line.  A change for 2013.

It  might be tough to switch  our thinking, but what if (considering it is the new year) we made purchase decisions based on long-term savings?  No coupons to redeem, no back-end rewards, no rebate programs to file for and no strings attached.  Sounds like a simpler purchase process and a wise investment that will be cost-effective over time.  Need an up-front savings?  The environment for one.  Diverting food waste to an on-site digester that transports food waste through the sewer system for disposal as opposed to the truck-bound landfills is a great savings.  Need another?  The message you send to your customers.  A long term investment reinforces the commitment you are making to your business, the environment, and to your customers.  It lets them know that you will be around, long-term, to see the savings.

The new year is the best time to make changes.