Organics recycling is all about removing organic waste from the waste stream. Rather than sending organic material to landfills, organics recycling aims to recycle and reuse that waste instead.
Essentially, any waste that was once alive is eligible for organics recycling and organics composting. This includes food waste, egg cartons, coffee grounds (and filters), tea bags, food-soiled products, and more. It also includes green waste, like grass, wood, and plants.
While composting can be done on an individual level, there are many reasons why universities, municipalities, and businesses should consider implementing a food waste and organics recycling initiative too.
The Importance and Benefits of Organics Recycling
According to the EPA, Americans toss out about 63 million tons of food waste every year. In fact, more food reaches our landfills than any other material and accounts for 24% of our landfill waste.
Food waste is a huge problem because when we waste food, we’re also wasting the water and energy it took to cultivate, harvest, transport, and package it. Plus, when food goes to the landfill, it produces methane (a harmful greenhouse gas).
Additionally, more than 38 million Americans are food insecure. This average only worsened during the pandemic when more than 60 million people turned to food banks (almost 20% of the country). These staggering statistics make food waste seem even more egregious.
Municipalities, universities, and businesses have the ability to make a significant dent in the problem with an organics recycling program.
Doing so not only helps the environment and community, but it also has a positive impact on your reputation and can improve ESG scores (if applicable). When you donate food, there are potential tax benefits as well.
Organics Recycling Best Practices
When it comes to organics recycling, many people assume that it simply means organics composting. While composting is part of the equation, it’s not the whole story.
The EPA has created a Food Recovery Hierarchy that prioritizes action to prevent and divert food waste. It’s best practice to start at the top levels because they produce the highest benefit for society and the environment, and then work your way down.
Level One: Source Reduction
Source reduction is all about ordering the right amount of food. Often, businesses and universities order more inventory than they actually need.
Restaurants can modify their menus, reevaluate their inventory, clean up their practices, and get rid of garnishes that people don’t eat. For colleges, getting rid of trays in the cafeteria can eliminate a lot of food waste.
To figure out how much food your college, municipality, or business wastes, consider getting a waste audit to see where you can reduce the problem from the source.
Level Two: Feed Hungry People
If you find that you’re tossing out a lot of edible and unspoiled food, consider partnering with local food banks, food pantries, and food rescue programs. Donating safe food waste is a terrific option for getting rid of food sustainably.
Level Three: Feed Animals
If donating food to people doesn’t make sense, consider donating your scraps to animals instead. You can partner with local farms, animal shelters, and other organizations to pass the food along.
Just make sure to check your local and state regulations before doing this because some states don’t allow food donation for animals, and others regulate what you can and can’t donate.
Level Four: Industrial Uses (Anaerobic Digestion)
Anaerobic digestion is when microorganisms break down organic materials to produce biogas and a soil amendment, both of which are very useful and have many industrial uses.
Level Five: Organics Composting
Organics composting is simply the process of turning your food waste into compost to nourish and feed the soil. Composting helps improve soils, improve water quality, and grow the next generation of crops.
Level Six: Incineration/Landfills
Once you’ve exhausted all your other options, then (and only then) should you send whatever is left over to incinerators and landfills. If you’ve done all the other levels first, you shouldn’t have much left to send away.
Getting Started with Organics Recycling
There’s a reason that everyone doesn’t already have an organics recycling program in place – it can be complicated and costly to set up and manage on your own. Establishing partnerships with food banks, farms, anaerobic digestion facilities, and composting facilities takes a lot of dedication and ongoing work.
Here at CheckSammy, we take the hassle out of organics recycling. Not only do we have the only patented organics recycling system in the world, but we also work with you to create a customized, on-demand program that follows the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy.
Our extensive SmartFLEET across North America makes same-day organics composting possible, and our technology and infrastructure allow us to create a full-scope organics recycling plan for your community, college, or business.
Contact us today to see what an organics recycling program could look like for you.
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