A recent story in American Recycler News featured experts in the food waste recycling arena and posed the question of whether the practice is on its way to becoming mandatory in the United States. While opinions varied, the experts agreed that the recycling of food waste is experiencing a resurgence not seen since the early days of agriculture when the practice was commonplace.
Currently, according to the EPA, over 150 communities in 18 states offer curbside collection of organic waste. However, food remains the most predominant item in the waste stream.
Nelson Widell, partner in the Peninsula Compost Group, believes the momentum is building toward making the practice mandatory.
"I think composting is going to become mandatory. I’ve been in the composting business for over 30 years and what was a curiosity 30 years ago has for the most part has now become mainstream," said Widell.
"Commodity recycling is mature, but the largest part of waste that’s still thrown away and not recycled is food and yard waste. This material is recyclable because that’s what Mother Nature wants and I do believe it’s becoming mandatory, at least here on the east coast, sometime in the future," Widell concluded.
Chaz Miller, director of policy/advocacy for the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), also weighed in on the issue.
"What you see right now are about 3,000 plus yard waste composting facilities in the country. From the data I’ve seen, it seems to be pretty extensive. You have about two dozen states that ban the disposal of yard waste in landfills to one extent or another."
In addition to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by reducing the amount of Methane that is release into the atmosphere when food waste is landfilled, creating organics recycling programs has the potential to create new jobs. In California, CalRecycle has estimated that about 14,000 new jobs could be created in the organics recycling sector as the state works to meet the 75% recycling goal set in AB 341 (Chesbro).
Find out more about the environmental benefits of organics recycling/composting.
Photo Credit: American Recycler News