The time is ripe to donate leftovers and divert scraps for composting
Coffee grounds, trim- mings from kitchen prep, partially eaten meals, and leftovers from catering – how
much food is thrown in the trash
at your facility?
According to the USDA, “31%, or 133 billion pounds, of
the available food supply in the U.S. goes uneaten.” Food
waste is second only to paper products in waste production,
accounting for 14.5% of the 251 million tons of trash generated in 2012. Due to low recovery rates, only 2% of these
organic materials are diverted from landfills, notes the EPA.
A combination of more effective use and diversion of
food waste can make a major impact on the reduction of
methane gas emissions produced by food decomposing in
landfills. Given that commercial facilities produce more
waste than a single-family home, owners and operators
are in a position to make a significant difference by managing food waste.
Use these five tips (page 36) to capture food scraps,
32 BUILDINGS 07.15
reduce your tipping fees, and green your operations.
Overcome Barriers to Food Recovery
Recovering organic waste can be a challenge for commercial buildings, particularly as the infrastructure needed for composting lags behind other recycling options.
For facility managers, the biggest internal barriers to
beginning a food diversion program are both cultural and
behavioral change. Building operators must gain consensus from all stakeholders in the process from leadership
down to the individuals who will physically separate the
food into each of its diversion streams. Typically a single
facility will select two or three waste streams (such as
food donation, composting, and landfill).
The time and energy it takes to sort the waste into
the right stream are frequently a struggle. The best
practice is to sort the food material at the source, usually in the kitchen. This reduces double handling and
increases the efficiency, but also requires building operators to engage occupants directly and educate them
on what can and cannot be composted. In Seattle, the
public utility company offers free signage and education materials to remind occupants what materials can
go into each waste stream.
Another common issue with food recovery programs
is space. You need floor space in the source area for
sorting in addition to an area for waste container storage. Composting bins can also be an odor issue if they
BY DINA BELON