Landfills have been used as the final resting place for all of our waste for a very long time. It is the most common method for waste disposal around the world. This burial ground is home to such wastes as food, paper, glass, metals, plastics, construction debris, medicine, electronics, fertilizer, etc. Big open holes filled with garbage, then compacted, filled some more and then buried with a layer of dirt.
We have been dumping our trash in the ground for years without a second thought to the environment or our health. But finally there is concern for the environment that has brought to light the need to terminate this practice, eliminate this antiquated process and move on to greener pastures. A solution needs to be defined that will benefit not only the earth, but also ourselves.
Many states are recognizing that there is value in food waste and are turning it into an asset rather than burying it. Four states are pioneering ambitious movements to regulate and remove food waste from their state landfills. Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and California have either announced or already initiated programs that will mandate the recycling of food waste. As amazing as this is for the environment, and as ambitious as the program is, unfortunately it raises some problems especially for the owners of large businesses that generate more than 1 ton of food waste a month.
In order to comply with the new regulations set forth by these states, businesses that generate more than 1 ton of food waste per month will have to find a new way to dispose of this waste as sending it off to be buried in a big hole will no longer be an option. No more dumping the food waste into dark garbage bags to be hauled many miles to the burial ground because those haulers will be fined for breaking the law. This has trouble written all over it for businesses that don’t execute a plan now. So, what are their choices?
The most popular answer to this question is composting. Supporters argue that it is an advantageous means of disposing of the waste due to its environmental benefits. But, the process is hardly environmentally-grounded and although it produces dirt that can be resold and spread about, the process itself is costly, inefficient, unreliable, time consuming, and labor intensive not to mention that is in no way a “green” solution.
On-site digesters that are designed to cost less than traditional hauling, pre-screen for contamination, keep trucks off the roads, take minutes to dispose of, and repurpose staff time, all the while sending the digested food waste to wastewater treatment plants that are converting it into biogas, biosolids or new clean water is the best solution out there.
Finding a new home for this waste will reduce the volume that ends up in landfills, but a good solution will also need some focus placed on purchasing less and producing less in order to generate less.
There is no escaping these new regulations, and as more states begin to adopt this as a means of sustainable survival, more will have to comply. It makes sense to formulate a plan and pilot a solution to be ahead of the game.