Pennsylvanian organizations are putting their foot down on food waste (literally and figuratively) and are finding that diversion is as good for businesses as it is for communities.
At 13.9%, food waste makes up the second largest fraction of America’s trash. While an impressive two-thirds of America’s paper is recycled and half of yard waste is composted, only 2.8% of food waste is diverted from the landfill.
Large food retailers are by far the largest contributors to America’s organic waste stream and can also make the biggest positive impact. Brown’s Super Stores, a supermarket chain with 10 stores near Philadelphia, proved that this year when they began donating food that otherwise would have been thrown out.
In about five months, the program generated 55 tons of food for Pennsylvania’s hungry, 250 tons of food for compost, and saved Brown’s over $20,000 in trash pickup costs. If that wasn’t enough, looking for items to donate gave employees a better idea of the inventory and led to more accurate food orders.
Even the State Correctional Institution is saving money; generating about 1.2 million pounds of waste each year, onsite collection and composting saved the organization $8,000 in trash pickup costs last quarter.
For some businesses in Pennsylvania, food waste diversion is a full time endeavor. Businesses like Bennett Compost, one of the few private companies that specialize in food waste pickup, and AgRecycle, one of the oldest composting businesses in the U.S.
Whether a way to save money on the garbage bill, a business model, a humanitarian act, or a noble alliance with Mother Nature, Pennsylvania is taking steps to tackle food waste.