We hear a lot about recycling and waste disposal. Waste management is all around us. We know tires can become soft landing pads on playgrounds. We separate our glass, paper and metals for weekly pick up or to drop off at our local recycling bins. We take our clothes to second hand stores or donate them to the big yellow box. We are becoming a nation of environmentally conscious recycling warriors. We understand that our waste disposal impacts our environment, that we leave carbon footprints and that we can do things to reduce our impact. But there is something that we do that is sending valuable waste into our environment that could be used. It’s our food scraps.
From Table and Back Again
There are many different ways to recycle food scraps from compost bins to donating them to a local farm. This procedure for dealing with waste disposal benefits both local farms and consumers. By donating food scraps to local farms, it becomes a rich food source for animals, lowers the cost for feed, resulting in lower prices at the market for farm fresh products. This type of donation is often made by restaurants and eateries that produce a large amount of food waste.
Individuals however, will make a bigger impact by sending their food scraps to compost bins. This food waste then becomes nutrient rich, which then can be used in the garden to give plants a boost. In 2011 over 61% of Canadian households are participating in backyard composting at some level. Waste disposal managed in this fashion can increase yields from backyard vegetable gardens, essentially recycling food waste back into an edible product.
Waste management of food is tricky. Stores are constantly clearing their shelves of food that has reached its “sell by” date. But just because food is no longer able to be sold, doesn’t mean it has spoiled. A great deal of food waste that hits the landfills comes from local grocers and food markets adhering to safe food standards and discarding food that has reached the end of its selling lifetime.
A growing trend is to donate these “expired” yet perfectly edible food products to food pantries and homeless shelters, where those fighting hunger can benefit from the nutrients that are still trapped inside delicious foods can do the most good. Waste management of food has been steered toward finding better ways to recycle food waste. In 2010, it was estimated that this type of food waste reached a whopping $27 billion found its way into landfills.
This growing trend to recycle food through donations, gets it to people that need it, and keeps it out of landfills.