Is Your Community Doing Curbside Food Waste Collection Yet?
By John Voket
I just ran across a feature by Debra Atlas, an
environmental journalist, professional blogger, and radio personality who posts
for the Sierra Club. (sierraclubgreenhome.com/debra-atlas)
out that almost half of the nearly 250 million tons of garbage that winds up in
our community landfills every year can be composted. An average single-family
household throws away about 45 pounds of food scraps and food-soiled paper every
month - around 25 percent of total trashed materials.
That's why Atlas
and the Sierra Club are helping promote a viable alternative - curbside food
waste collection. Today, more than 160 communities in 16 states have implemented
curbside food waste collection programs - a trend increasing by about 50 percent
annually over the past three years according to the Sierra Club
Organic waste like kitchen scraps and yard trimmings can be
recycled into valuable compost used to enrich soil in landscaping and road
construction projects. And this expanded recycling practice helps reduce the
amount the methane by-product of landfill food waste in the air we
A report issued by the EPA noted that composting all the food
scraps in California, for example, could cut emissions by 5.8 million metric
tons each year. So what counts as “food waste?"
Food scraps such as
fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and bones, bread, pasta and baked goods,
eggshells, dairy products, and coffee grounds
Food-soiled paper goods
such as paper towels and napkins, paper plates and cups, and pizza
Milk and juice cartons
Boxes from frozen
and refrigerated foods
Waxed paper and paper containers
filters and tea bags
And other compostable items such as full vacuum
cleaner bags, dryer lint, tissues, cotton balls, floral trimmings, and house
Spokane, Washington offers a service where homeowners can
subscribe to put their yard and food waste carts out the same day they haul
their garbage and curbside recycling bin to the curb. The material is composted
for public use and the monthly cost is just $14.
Learn more by visiting
the Solid Waste Association of North America (swana.org) or searching for local
food waste solutions at municipal and county websites near you.