St. Louis Delivers Successful Commercial Food Waste Program

IFSC Guest Blog Series by Sara  Ryan, St. Louis Compost

Food waste is a BIG problem in the United States, with more than 36 million tons of food waste being generated in 2012 alone. Only 5% of this was diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

St. Louis Composting (SLC) strives to make composting food waste as easy as possible for restaurants and businesses. Diverting food waste slows the stream of ozone-depleting organic waste buried in landfills while creating bountiful soil amendments naturally known as compost. SLC with the help of Total Organics Recycling (TOR) collect organic material from participating food outlets and manage moisture, nitrogen, oxygen and temperature levels to create ideal conditions for the magical microbial activity that transforms it into nutrient-rich compost in about six months.

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“Just Eat It” Film Brings Awareness to Massive Amounts of Food Waste

By Cameron Ruen, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County

Food is wasted all along the supply chain, from the moment seeds are planted in soil through the final tip of a dump truck at the landfill. “Just Eat It” brings this invisible fact to the forefront by documenting many ways food and its nutrients are discarded.

Surprise and astonishment were evident by gasps in the audience at the unsightly amounts of food being discarded at many points in the food chain. Examples included celery plants being stripped of outer stalks to conform to packaging constraints, peaches that do not pass inspection due to grocery store appearance requirements, packaged food removed from grocery store shelves days before misunderstood labels dictate freshness or expiration, dumpsters full of food perfectly good for donation, the amount of food thrown away from consumers’ refrigerators, and the list could go on. The food industry is complex, massive, and lucrative to say the least.

The One Earth Film Festival organized the event and a post-film discussion that invited audience members to share the most impactful moments of the film. These included images of throwing away a quarter of a person’s shopping bags directly after purchase, producing one hamburger uses the amount of water used in an hour and a half shower, the fact that best by dates are not indicative of food safety, the point that composting may make people feel better about wasting, and the perception that eating what you take at school may be positive or negative depending on how you look at waste or intake quantity.

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Composting Yard Waste and Food Scraps on Columbia College Campus

At Columbia College Chicago, we don’t do “normal”. We praise ourselves for not building our collegiate culture around sports teams, fraternities, or sororities. Instead we do art crawls, dance events, open mics, and large-scale film critiques. Even our campus operations are anything but “normal”. We have no cafeteria or food court, we own one residence center for on-campus housing, and we are largely a commuter-based campus. Sustainability has become a large focus at Columbia, as we continue to integrate it into our arts-based mission and accentuate the talent and creative forces around us. In the last several years, recycling has become habit on campus, so we set our sights on the next goal: compost. Through all the challenges we have faced, we have learned to be resourceful and have found creative solutions to creating and building a campus-wide compost program.

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