The Consumer Electronics Association revealed the results of a recent national survey of electronics recyclers conducted by the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. on CRT glass management in the U.S., at a meeting yesterday with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. and the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse.
Food “waste” is often not “waste,’ but
discarded food that is nutritional and safe to use. In 2011, more than 20% of American households were
either food insecure at least some time during the year or had very low food
security, where insufficient money or household resources lead to food intake
reductions and eating pattern disruptions.Promotion of food donation is one way that
rural and small towns can work to reduce and better manage food discards, while
also providing social benefits for the community.
A food bank is typically a charitable
organization that solicits and warehouses donated food and other items.
Collected food is distributed to community agencies which serve people in need,
often servicing hundreds of community-based organizations in large geographic
areas. Food banks will usually accept foods that are packaged or can be stored
for a period of time. Food recovery or
rescue programs (often affiliated with homeless shelters) usually redistribute
perishable foods locally, such as already prepared food from caterers,
restaurants, and cafeterias.
Businesses benefit from food donation
through reduced disposal costs and opportunities for potential tax benefits. Conducting a waste assessment helps businesses
to identify and make changes to prevent waste and potentially reduce costs
associated with food purchases and disposal. Communities benefit from reduced organics to
manage and dispose of, as well as the opportunities to help the needy.
An opportunity to reduce farm discards
and assist those in need is a “farm gleaning” program, where crops are gathered
from farmers' fields that have already been harvested and the remainder is not
economically profitable to harvest or is left unsold.Organizations that work with farmers to offer
farm gleaning establish distribution of “gleaned” crops to local food
distribution networks or organizations.
Food that is no longer safe for people
to eat may be of use as livestock feed. “Food to animal” opportunities may
particularly benefit rural, agricultural areas. Food processing facilities, supermarkets,
and restaurants, can reduce food wastes by sending them to farms for use as
livestock feed, thus reducing disposal needs. Livestock producers can benefit
by saving money on feed costs.
Farms will typically offer collection
services or contract with a local hauler to offer these services. Often most or
all food scraps are acceptable, including post-consumer scraps. However, some
states prohibit meat products from being used as livestock feed. Alternatively,
before being fed to livestock, food scraps may be required by state or local
regulation to be cooked to eliminate the potential for harmful bacteria. Check
with state agricultural agencies for regulations that apply.
Similar to organics reduction programs,
successful action on food recovery at the community level focuses on promotion
and education.Private food donations to food recovery
agencies in rural areas are often limited because there are fewer big
businesses—such as grocery stores or restaurants—to make donation. Local
government involvement in promoting food donation can help to raise awareness
of the importance for smaller commercial food waste generators to participate.
Rural areas may have limited food
recovery organizations in their immediate area, but are generally served by a regional
food bank. These regional food banks typically work with local charities or
churches to bring food recovery opportunities to rural and small towns. Mobile
pantries are used to fill a void in rural areas without active food
distribution networks. Food is shipped in boxes to a mobile pantry site, such
as a church, for distribution residents. Animal feed opportunities are
contingent on the feed needs and handling abilities of area farmers.
Before promoting food
donation or food to animals programs, it is important for communities to check
local and state regulations.
Food donation is covered by
the federal Good
Samaritan Act, but there are important health and
safety guidelines that must be included in any outreach on food recovery
Conduct outreach to food
recovery agencies to find out the services they offer (e.g., pick-up), the
types of acceptable food items, and other specifications.
Keep in mind that for rural
areas, these organizations may be regional or even statewide.
Work with businesses to
conduct a waste assessment, to set a goal for reducing the amount of food waste
being disposed, and become aware of food recovery opportunities.
Outreach to farmers,
petting zoos, and similar operations will determine options for “food to
animals” opportunities, the types of food acceptable, collection options, and
storage and processing requirements.
Check with the State
agricultural regulatory agency for acceptable food and processing requirements.
Tripoli in Bremer County,
Iowa (population 1,313) is part of a network of anti-hunger agencies and
volunteers using mobile
pantries to provide food to rural residents in
Regional Food Bank is working to provide
local charities with the tools required to meet the food needs in rural Ohio
communities.As a part of its agency
capacity building program, the food bank has partnered with Journeys End
Ministries in Newcomerstown in Tuscarawas County (population 3,820).
Elementary schools in St.
Francis, a town in Anoka County, Minnesota (population 7,218), along with
businesses around the region participate in a recycling program that sends food
waste to Barthold
Farms, located in St. Francis. The program
saves the school district and businesses money by reducing garbage waste
and collection fees. See the Pigs
Aren't Picky video on
the Anoka County Integrated Waste Management Department website.
Second Harvest of South Georgia
serves rural communities throughout southern Georgia. Programs include “Kid’s
Café,” which provides needy children with evening meals. The organization
effectively leverages the food recovery options of urban areas to meet the
service needs of rural and small towns.
management hierarchy starts with reducing organics at the source through smart landscaping,
grasscycling, leaf mulching, and food waste reduction. Keeping organics
onsite—at residences, schools, institutions, government buildings, and
businesses—or not producing them in the first place, offers the most cost
effective management solution for communities. These practices save money by
reducing municipal leaf and yard waste management and collection needs.
Landscaping that incorporates local and regional native plants
(xeriscaping) and “edible landscapes” results in less yard waste.Smart landscapes are easier to maintain,
typically healthier and more resilient, tend to be better adapted to local soil
conditions and climate, and offer benefits to local wildlife.Encouraging residents to plan lawns in
accordance with their family needs (e.g., smaller lawns if there are no
children in the family) can significantly reduce maintenance, fertilizer
applications, and grass clippings generation.
growing season as much as half or more of yard waste is grass clippings.
“Grasscycling” presents a no cost, simple and easy organics management
solution.Instead of raking and bagging
clippings and putting them in the landfill, the grass is left on the lawn when
mowing to be “recycled” back into the lawn. Grasscycling saves labor and
eliminates the need to purchase disposal bags.
clippings decompose quickly and allow valuable nutrients to return to the soil,
reducing requirements for additional fertilizing. The practice does not harm
lawns and does not contribute to the growth of thatch. Grasscycling is commonly
practiced on large grass areas such as parks, golf courses, and sport fields
where bagging of clippings is not feasible. Specialized "mulching"
mowers are available from most major manufacturers. These mowers chop clippings
into smaller pieces for quicker decomposition. Retrofit kits are also available
to convert a standard lawn mower into a mulching mower.But any lawnmower can accomplish the same
result for home use.
promoting grasscycling success:
Keep mower blades sharp
Cut the grass only when it is dry
Do not remove more than one third the length of the grass height
grasscycling, leaf mulching is another low cost organics management solution
suitable for rural and small towns.Mulching or shredding leaves in-place is simple and saves residents and
landscapers time and money. Mulching leaves in place is much easier than
raking, bagging, or blowing them to the curb. Once finely shredded, leaves will
continue to decompose adding valuable nutrients to soil and improving soil
structure.Like grasscycling, a regular
lawnmower can adequately shred leaves to make mulching possible.
promoting leaf mulching success:
Mow over leaves directly on the lawn to shred them into fine
pieces which will decompose over winter.
Rake leaves on pathways or driveways into piles, mow over with a
lawn mower, and use as mulch for gardens or pile for backyard composting.
a National Resources Defense Council report, around 40% of all edible food in
the United States is wasted.
Better food management practices at home, schools, institutions, and at
commercial food outlets (including restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores)
can be easily implemented.
Smart food handling techniques can reduce food discards that result from
improper storage and handling, overproduction, preparation trimmings,
expiration, spoilage, overcooked, contaminated, and dropped items. General tips
on food waste reduction include: improving food preparation procedures;
adjusting portion sizes; and, monitoring food expiration dates closely. Through
implementation of food waste reduction practices, food purchasing costs and
disposal needs can be significantly decreased.
can determine how much recoverable food is generated by conducting an assessment
of their current practices, looking at how much food waste is thrown out, both
before preparation (spoiled food), preparation scraps, and the amount of food
thrown out by customers (for better “portion management”). Easy tracking
methods can be adopted to determine how much food waste can be avoided and what
may be suitable food for donation.
There are many more ideas available to both residents and businesses on
ways to manage food so that waste is prevented and purchasing and disposal
costs are reduced.
The key to
reduced yard waste is to let residents and business owners know that organics
reduction practices contribute to healthy yard maintenance, are easy to adopt
and implement, and generally result in less time and money spent.
organics reduction programs require effective public awareness campaigns and
education. Most residents already have a lawn mower, so no additional equipment
is needed. Landscapers benefit by adopting the practices since they do not need
to spend time raking, bagging, and hauling the materials away. Similarly, food
waste reduction practices are relatively low cost and simple to adopt.
Government agencies can foster education that promotes the
incorporation of native and edible plants suitable for yard landscapes.
Grasscycling and leaf mulching tips can be posted on town and
regional government websites.
Use social media, including Facebook and Twitter, at the beginning
of the fall to promote leaf mulching and again in early spring to promote
If budgets allow, posters, fliers, and pamphlets can also be
developed and distributed.
Home composting workshops can incorporate yard waste reduction.
Reach out to agricultural extension agencies for educational
resources they have for distribution.
Consider adopting a resolution requiring or promoting native
plants, grasscycling, and leaf mulching.
Communities can lead by example—landscaping town buildings and
right-of-ways with native shrubbery and practice grasscycling and leaf
Promote food waste prevention by posting information on websites.
If staffing is available, provide training in food waste
reduction, food recovery and composting to grocery stores and restaurants.
Springfield Township is located in north Oakland
County in southeast Michigan (population 13,940).It has a native landscape project that
includes a Native Plants CD-ROM and Homeowner's Series: a searchable database
containing photos and information on more than 230 plants native to
Harwinton, a town in Litchfield County,
Connecticut (population 5,283) offers an informative webpage providing specific
information on lawn care maintenance incorporating grasscycling.
Irvington, in Westchester County, New York (population
6,468) promotes a catchy “Love 'em and Leave 'em!” campaign promoting leaf
mulching. In fact the program, which was started in Irvington, has now spread
around the County. The Love 'Em And Leave 'Em website has a vast amount of
resources, including information targeting both residents and landscapers, a
toolkit with sample letters to send to residents, sample resolutions, talking
points, presentations, posters, videos, and more.
that Support Organics Management Practices
Rural, semi-rural, and small towns often face challenges to
implementing organics diversion and composting programs. Challenges range from a lack of information about
program opportunities, to concerns about costs, and compliance with state
requirements for compost operations. There are many factors that contribute to
developing a successful program.Securing the support of decision makers, as well as the citizenry, is a
first step for moving forward.And, a successful program must be tailored to meet the needs
of each community.
Decision makers and the public may need to be persuaded of
the value in adding organics management as an undertaking for their community. They
may feel the program isn’t needed or that organics management is too costly.These negative attitudes can have many roots,
but generally it is the result of a lack of information about the amount of
organics being thrown in the trash or “managed” through backyard burning, and
the associated wasted resources to the community. As a result, the potential benefits and
economic growth opportunities through improved organics management are overlooked.
Getting Started with Public Awareness
A public outreach and education program about the value of
organics diversion and composting can be the most important organics management
tool available for many rural and small towns. The outreach and education effort has two
goals: 1) convincing the public and decision makers to support an organics
management program; and 2) to have citizens participate in the program.In the first phase – developing support for
the new program and securing the agreement to create it – efforts should focus
on decision makers.
Start by defining the importance of improved organics
management. Next, outline the specifics
of the program and its goals. This will include details on the scope of the
program and the costs and benefits in order to provide decision makers with the
knowledge they need to act.
Gaining community support for the venture comes next. Citizens
may need to be convinced about the need to change their existing organics
management behavior. Concerns will need
to be addressed and the requested “change” and program requirements explained,
along with the costs and benefits to the participants and the community. Public
outreach and training are essential to gain support and participation once
opportunities are put into place. Education helps to ensure that residents
learn about the program, it promotes participation, and provides residents with
an understanding of how to manage materials at their home, or how to
effectively participate in an organics collection program. The message and
outreach will be specific to the program, as will be described in detail under
each program topic in this document.
General strategies for creating public awareness are
applicable to virtually all education campaigns, however. An effective way to begin is to organize a
local or regional “organics summit” that brings together decision makers,
businesses, schools, and residents to discuss the benefits of organics
management and the options that could work in the community.
Public awareness strategies and outreach programs can incorporate
a number of relatively low cost activities, including:
Speaker’s Bureaus and presentations at
neighborhood association meetings, schools, and public events
Public outreach at local fairs and
Printed materials, including
newsletters, bill inserts, brochures, and door hangers, andposting resources
on town websites and social media pages
Radio, TV public service announcements
Press releases and ads placed in local
newspapers, and letters to the editor
A banner on main street is highly
effective in rural and small towns
Neighborhood and school contests to
help create program logos, messages, and mascots are effective at getting the
word out about new programs and building support
Interpersonal contact and word of mouth
are important communication avenues in rural and small towns
Social marketing has been used to effectively promote waste
reduction and recycling to targeted audiences. Applying social marketing
techniques for residential organics diversion could include individual visits,
neighborhood contests, door-to-door outreach, pledges, and colorful, targeted messages.
Similarly, social marketing techniques for local businesses might involve the
establishment of business recognition programs, focus group meetings,
involvement of restaurant owners, hands-on training efforts, and more.
Social marketing messages are designed to provide consistent
information on program expectations, goals, and guidelines; however, the
message is targeted to specific audiences. Messages would address perceived
barriers to participation, such as the “yuck” factor in composting, providing
suggestions and solutions for overcoming concerns.
Funding Policies and Programs
Solid waste disposal “cost awareness” is the first step in
providing financial incentives for organics management. Informing decision
makers and residents about the actual costs of trash disposal and the potential
to reduce costs through organics reduction and diversion can help to gain
support for better management practices. Many rural and small town communities
continue to pay for solid waste programs through general taxes or property
taxes. Often decision makers and residents do not know what landfill disposal
or incineration of organics and other wastes is costing the community.
Similarly, if private sector hauling services are provided, residents and
businesses typically do not know what is included in their service charge.
Differential rates for waste disposal services foster
desirable behavior (such as waste reduction and diversion) by providing a
financial incentive.Tiered rate
programs, called volume-based rates or “pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT), apply a
variable rate pricing to customers based on the amount of waste disposed. The
more waste disposed, the greater the customer cost, thus encouraging reduction
and diversion. These incentive programs offer communities a successful
mechanism for both funding and fostering improved organics management.
If residents pay a regular fee for trash disposal, charging
less for the disposal of separated organics than for trash or embedding fees
for collection of organic materials into the residential trash rates will
provide an incentive for residents to separate organics and save money by doing
Similarly, if rural areas operate
a landfill or transfer station for private hauler dumping, charging a lower “tipping”
or disposal fees for discarding organics provides a financial incentive to
haulers to provide organics collection services.
Charging sales taxes, surcharges, or special fees (such as
licensing fee) on solid waste collection, but not on organics collection is
also an available mechanism for rural and small towns to encourage haulers to
provide organics collection.
Bans and Mandates
Banning of open burning or at least restricting open burning
contributes to more environmentally-sound organics management. Residents and
even towns will continue to burn leaves and yard waste unless regulations are
in place to restrict or ban burning. Education about management alternatives
and benefits can help to achieve compliance with burning bans and help to
overcome engrained cultural acceptance of burning.
Banning yard debris from disposal in landfills and
incinerators promotes diversion if the ban is successfully enforced and
effective education is in place. Disposal bans provide states and regions with
a way to effectively draw attention to the benefits of organics diversion and
then inform people about their options for organics waste reduction and
recycling. Bans work well since most residents, institutions, and even
businesses in rural and small town areas at least have some options for
managing yard waste through reduction and backyard composting. Promotion of
reduction and recycling programs available to residents, institutions, and
businesses (including landscapers and gardeners) work in concert with disposal
and burning bans for effective compliance and increased organics diversion.
Mandatory regulations require residents and other organics
generators to participate in a designated program. Mandatory programs can be
effective if a satisfactory organics collection and processing system is in
place. However, mandatory requirements do not allow for the flexibility that
bans do, as residents may not have the option to fully participate in
alternatives, including organics reduction. Mandatory ordinances can be adopted
and enforced at the local level, where landfill bans are typically more easily
applied at the state or regional jurisdictions.
Food waste disposal bans or mandatory diversion of food
scraps, while not currently widely adopted in the U.S., can lead to increased
diversion of all organics and could be successfully included in an “organics
ban” or “mandatory organics recycling” program.
Regional Cooperation and Private-Sector Incentives
Regional planning and cooperation that unites rural areas,
small towns, and regional entities (counties and solid waste districts) can be
an important strategy to lower program costs and expand the range of program
options available.For example, use of regionally shared mobile
processes equipment (e.g., wood/brush grinders) or leases for mobile grinding
contractors provides communities with a low cost processing opportunity without
the need to invest in equipment.
Another opportunity presented by regional cooperation is to
collaborate with private industry to help identify sites for the collection
and/or processing of organics, to be owned and operated by the company, or
using public land but privately managed. The economy of scale offered by regional
collaboration can make siting in your region more attractive.
Additional Support Strategies
Once programs are implemented, data collection and reporting
on participation levels, material quantities and quality, environmental
benefits and impacts, job creation, and diversion program costs and revenues is
essential to track and report back about to decision makers and the public.
and programs that promote the organics management hierarchy—reduce, reuse, and
recycle—will prove to be cost effective and most successful in rural and small
up - Promoting the Organics Management Hierarchy.