Monday, January 17, 2011

Food Waste for Money

In the United States approximately 75% of "garbage" is put into the landfill where it is buried and forgotten about, of that about 66% is food waste and I'll go out on a limb and say that the majority of that is from vegetation (fruits & vegetables).  Vegetable waste that is buried in a landfill with little or no access to oxygen becomes anaerobic and decomposed very slowly while producing methane gas which as most people probably know by now, is a greenhouse gas.  This same vegetable waste could be collected separately from other garbage and composted converting it into nutrient rich fertilizer which could then be used to grow crops and actually growing the soil rather than just stripping it of nutrients and life. 
     Another benefit to this separating and composting is that it would help to create jobs.  More people will be needed to 1) educate the public on the proper way to separate garbage from food waste, 2) people to drive trucks for frequent food waste pick-ups (no one wants their scraps piled into a plastic can and sitting in the sun all week long).  3) potentially more jobs in the composting facilities sorting out non-compostable debris and running the equipment.  4) Researchers and scientists to monitor and record things like breakdown rates, pesticide residue, nutrient content, bacteria and pathogen activity, etc.
     Virtually every state in the country has some sort of solid waste removal program, otherwise all of our garbage would pile up around us.  If both federal and local governments worked together with waste disposal companies and composting facilities (which are increasing in number) and develop a program for separately picking up food waste from homes and especially restaurants and catering companies, we could greatly reduce 1) our need for landfill space and 2) our dependence on fossil fuels to produce harmful chemical fertilizers which regularly leach into waterways and cause problems. 
     I truly believe that this kind of food waste recycling program could be a win-win situation, we could reduce our negative impact on the environment, and increase employment while building profits.
  I encourage you to contact your local solid waste authority and ask if they have any plans for these types of programs in the future and if they don't then ask what is holding them back.  If we keep putting off dealing with our waste problems they will-like a landfill- continue to grow.  

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