Food waste is the elephant in the room. Actually, it is the million-ton elephant in the room!
Millions of tons of food go unused in Australia every year and one-third of all food produced around the world is wasted. According to the EPA, more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single item. It makes up 21.6 percent of all discarded municipal solid waste.
So… now you might be wondering what your business can do about food waste (and its broader category of organic waste)? Whether you are a restaurant or a hotel, a local business or a big chain, it’s time to learn more about organics recycling and help us, help you, help reduce landfill!
Ok, first things first: What’s organic waste?
To put it simply, organic waste is anything that was once alive. While food waste covers what we eat, organic waste casts a wider net. So that includes:
Meat, poultry, and seafood (including bones and shells)
Eggs and paper egg cartons
Coffee grounds (including paper filters)
Food-soiled paper products
Organic waste also includes green waste like landscape and pruning waste and non-hazardous wood waste.
Unfortunately, most of the organic waste items listed above end up in landfills!
When organic waste is put in landfills, the bacteria that break down the waste creates methane. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas. When we divert organic waste brought to landfills, we put useful things to better use and reduce methane emissions.
At NetNada we are trying to reduce the methane and CO2 that is produced by businesses and organics waste is an easy win if you know what you’re doing!
So… what should we do with organic waste?
The ultimate goal is to prevent organic waste from becoming “wasted” at all. There are many other ways to utilize these materials.
We have a easy to understand and handy Food Recovery Hierarchy that outlines some common ways to prevent food and organic waste. In order from the top priority to the bottom, the hierarchy is made up of:
- Source reduction: Reduce the volume of surplus food generated
- Feed hungry people: Donate extra food to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters
- Feed animals: Divert food scraps to animal feed
- Industrial uses: Provide waste oils for fuel conversion and send food waste to anaerobic digestion where it can be used for fuel and electricity production
- Composting: Create a nutrient-rich soil amendment
- Landfill/incineration: Last resort to disposal
- Organics recycling encompasses options 3-5. Depending on what kind of organic waste you generate and your location, you can develop a unique plan that makes sense for your business.
What are animal feed programs?
Animal feed programs are nothing revolutionary; farmers have been doing this for years. If your business has food waste, it’s cheaper and more sustainable to have it turned into animal feed than sending it to a landfill.
Of course, it’s vital to learn about your state and local regulations on animal feed. Some states ban certain types of animal feed programs while others have strict regulations on processing. Certain food waste containing certain ingredients may be banned as they can be harmful to the animals.
If you’re interested in recycling your organic waste by supporting farmers and animals let us know and we will help set you up with an organics plan and program!
What composting options are there?
Composting can also be a viable way to put your food and organic waste to good use. Compost is a soil additive made from organic materials; it is a great natural fertilizer that holds more water and prevents soil erosion; a big win-win!
If you are a small or local business, it may be feasible to set up your own backyard composting program. Make sure to do your research on what is compostable and what’s just biodegradable. Feel free to ask us, we are here to help!
For larger businesses, you can look into commercial mixed food waste recycling programs. Sometimes the materials accepted in these programs go to commercial composting facilities and sometimes they go to anaerobic digestion facilities. Depending on what’s available in your area, you could have a curb side pick-up or drop-off options to take your organic waste to a large-scale organics recycling facility.
To learn more about composting for businesses drop us a line here.
We hope that you are feeling inspired to tackle your food waste and organics emissions at your business or home! It is a great step to becoming NetNada!