We live in interesting times. The U.S. spends $218 billion a year getting food from farm to fork. While 40 percent of the food produced ends up in landfills emitting powerful greenhouse gases, 41 million Americans are food insecure, as 2016 figures reported. What is the solution? Many states are responding to this disparity by enacting organic waste ban legislation. Each of us as individuals can do more by simply understanding the benefits of recycling organic waste.
Recycling Food Waste is Fundamentally Enriching
Organic waste impacts both the environment and the nation’s economy. Food sent to landfills quickly rots producing a substantial volume of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In fact, landfills constitute over 20 percent of global methane emissions. We can easily reduce these emissions when we choose to recycle food waste. By recycling organic materials as compost we divert landfills, reduce emissions, improve soil health, improve drought resistance and reduce the requirement for extra water, pesticides and fertilizers.
What About Capturing and Converting Methane into Energy?
Whether organic waste is dumped in the landfill or produces BTUs from being incinerated, the energy from waste is inefficient. Much of the methane is released from the landfill before it can be effectively captured. Ultimately, though, organic waste cannot generate as much energy as recycling conserves. The better choice is recycling and composting. Backyard composting and proficient industrial compost operations only produce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the operation of industrial and other equipment.
Dumpsters in States Mandating Organic Waste Bans
As more states adopt organic recycling requirements, restaurants and food service companies must recycle their organic waste based upon the amount of weekly waste generated. Rather than wait for the edict that enforces this requirement, it is possible to adopt an organics recycling program. This means scraping all food scraps and leftovers excluding any bones into temporary storage containers that later can be taken out to the rented organic recycling cart for pickup. Using their mixed organics recycling program, the waste is converted into biomass, a clean renewable source of energy. Many dumpster rentals will offer organic recycling services to aid in these efforts.
Adopt a Zero Waste Goal
The concept of zero waste is gaining in popularity across the globe. In the grand scheme of things, zero waste is the conservation of all resources including responsible production and consumption, which means reuse and recovery of all products, packaging and materials. It excludes any burning or discharge to landfills, air or water that would threaten the environment or human health. As individuals, we can reduce our own footprint, one step at a time. Organic waste recycling is the single greatest effort all of us can make. As a result, you will save money by buying less, eating better, feeling better and reduce the amount of trash you have to take out.
We are approaching nearly 200 years of worldwide industrial manufacturing, distribution and disposal systems operating under the false impression that natural resources are expendable, and pollution is absorbed both by land and water. We now know this is far from the reality. With our current technology, it is within our power to employ the foresight to effectively adapt to a better method of conserving, recycling, composting and reusing our precious resources.
Anica Oaks, the author of this post, is a freelance writer and web enthusiast.