According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, about 18 percent of all garbage that is thrown away is composed of food scraps. This includes discards, such as fruit peels and bones from preparing food, as well as edible food that is not eaten or goes bad before it can be consumed. Nationally, this adds up to about 34 billion tons worth of food waste each year, which costs one billion dollars to manage.
Only about 3 percent of food waste is diverted from disposal into composting or food recovery initiatives. Given the tremendous burden of managing this reusable material, the county is dilligently identifying ways to first reduce food waste, then use it to feed the hungry or animals, and finally compost inedible food waste generated by large quantity generators (such as school, institutions, hospitals or corporate campuses).
Households can engage in source reduction by improving meal planning and purchasing. For what scraps do exist, a home composting system will generate a high quality soil amendment that is used to improve the health of lawns and landscaping.
Institutions can use equipment to measure food waste and improve purchasing, thus preventing waste at the source. This can lead to big cost savings in materials as well as refuse collection. They can also explore on-site in-vessel composting (where applicable) or start a food waste collection program and hire a hauler to bring the waste to a larger commercial composting site.
Want to learn more?
There is a vast array of research out there. If you are a business, hospital, school or institution in Westchester County and want to learn more about what you can do to reduce food waste and divert what can't be used to feed the hungry, generate compost or other uses, contact us.