According to the USDA, 30-40 percent of food is wasted in the United States which directly impacts our environment. Some of this waste is at the consumer level when purchasing produce that never gets used before its expiration date. Can some of this waste be repurposed rather than finding its way to the landfill? The answer is yes with food waste composting.
Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material (aka food) into a soil amendment rich in nutrients known as compost. You may ask, why compost and what are the benefits of compost? Besides helping saving the environment, composting gives you an excellent source of free compost. Compost will enrich your soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and reduces methane emissions landfills thus lowering your carbon footprint. So not only your garden will love the nutrient rich compost, but you are also leaving a better environment for future generations.
Anyone can start composting with minimal start-up cost. It all starts in the kitchen, where food waste (organic waste) is separated from nonfood waste (inorganic waste). Many people use two waste bins – organic waste bin and inorganic waste bin. It’s important to label your organic waste bin or choose a distinctive colored bin like green. This will help with the separation and serve as reminder for organic waste, such as egg shells, leftovers that have gone bad, the lettuce that was never eaten, or even the burnt brownies made by a special ten year old.
The next step is to identify an area to start composting. The area should be large enough to mix soil with the organic waste. Many composting people choose to build either a wooden box or use large plastic bins. A word of caution, make sure you composting area is easily accessible and not too hard on your back to shovel out compost for your garden.
Finally, once your organic waste bin is full, simply take the bin to your composting area and empty it into the area. Mixing the organic waste with soil gives you the consistency needed for either your potted plants or directly for your garden. You can have a constantly renewing supply of fresh compost for your garden and the nutrients to keep the soil fertile for a long time.
Composting provides a solution for food waste at the consumer level. Can composting also be a solution at the retail level? Yes, it can, but at a much larger scale. Retailers, primarily grocery stores, produce a lot of food waste that is derived from passing its sell-by date. If retailers also embark on the composting solution, it can be an additional source of revenue where compost is solid on an industrial scale and possible down to the consumer level. Retailers will need to separate the food waste from packaging then store the compost a bolted tank. Bolted tanks are made from individual sections that are assembled onsite. This allows for sufficient space for the compost, but also an effective method for installing the compost storage.