|One Of America's Overworked Landfills|
I've mentioned my efforts to go green by reusing items, recycling paper and utilizing my own compost. It seems like a small effort when compared to the amount of trash and food thrown out by supermarkets, cafeterias and restaurants every day. This is a frustrating cycle that never seems to end. It has been observed that in America alone restaurants discard anywhere from 5,500 to 6,000 tons of food on a daily basis. The restaurant that is conscious of there own overwhelming amount of debris are few. How can this problem be contained and disposal reduced? First is to provide portions that are more suitable for consumption. That "super-size" meal may have sounded good when you ordered it but how many of us really finish the entire carryout? Congress passed a bill over a decade ago allowing establishments to donate leftover foods to distribution banks for the needy without fear of responsibility. Suitable foods that have been stored property can be passed on but few opt to take advantage of the service. Many still fear loop holes that could lead to liability, others simply find the process time consuming and too costly. Possible participants may find that local food safety issues will interfere with the process. It is important to point out that that several restaurant chains have developed a procedure for donating food items. It is mandatory that more and more climb on board to reduce waste and nourish an economically wounded world.
Supermarkets are estimated to add 32.5 billion pounds of food waste each year making them one of the highest instigators out there. Why do they abandon so much product when the EPA has a list of alternative options available for reducing waste? Competition is a big factor. The race to have the best and draw the consumer in means reducing shelf life for any item that does not meet consumer standards. We are taught through advertisement that it has to look the best to be the best. Product turnover in any produce department is an average of 5% to 8% of stock on a monthly basis. Employees are not trained nor encouraged to hold off discarded food for a recovery program. Some strictly discourage it for fear of liability issues and bad press if problems arise. With 1 in 7 American families having difficulty putting a nutritious meal on the table nightly why do these institutions with the ability to stand up simply sit back on their laurels? Why is "distressed" merchandise not reduced and offered to employees who work hard for their employer? Homeless shelters would find themselves blessed if they could serve up one aromatic dinner of pot roast and potatoes. At worst spoilage can be donated for composting, or to feed sheltered animals. Many grocery store chains do contribute a small portion of items, but limit donations to bakery and canned good items.
Although it may not seem as obvious school cafeterias are overwhelmingly wasteful. Hundreds of pounds of food are discarded every day with a predicted value of over $1 billion dollars annually. Experts contribute the trend to a few factors. Children are simply not being taught the value of food and nutrition. The incorporation of healthier options into school lunch programs increased waste. Salads and whole grain breads aren't making such a hit. The answer is simple education, not elimination. Children need to be educated on the complete benefits of proper sustenance. The EPA has provided guidelines for reducing and recovering waste in cafeterias. Conducting consistent waste audits to stay informed helps monitor the trends and solutions. Following proper ordering guidelines to avoid overstocking, and portion controls work well. Many cafeterias are developing standards for recovering waste into a school sponsored compost used to teach the benefits of reuse on the environment.
If you would like any additional information on waste reduction please visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/index.htm for programs and incentives that will work for you.