Should I Recycle Or Throw Away Organic Waste In Landfills?

Some states are sending less food to landfills.

Hannaford Supermarkets will use an Anaerobic food reprocessing system to strip the food from it packaging and mix it with microbes and manure. Food waste is the third highest Methane emissions in the US. Washington state Virginia and Washington State were the recent states to pass similar laws.

The National Grocers Association has not taken a public position on disposal of food waste through independent grocery stores, but many of its members have “innovative” food waste programs, such as Big Y Markets. The organization uses a methane digester to turn organic waste into electricity. It is estimated that supermarkets generate between 5 and 10 percent of all the food waste in the US.

Some have proposed a tax on throwaway food packaging, or at least making it illegal for food companies to use so much packaging. In Europe, consumers pay for the disposal of packaging through “extended producer responsibility” laws.

Due to the recent recession, food waste has gone down nationwide. And with 1 in 6 Americans on food stamps, organic waste is being used to help people eat healthy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, nearly 31 percent of fruits and vegetables go uneaten while 30 percent of meat and dairy products are thrown away.

Food Waste Is a Major Problem.

Confusing Date Labels Are Making It Worse.

Organic Waste Is Better Off Being Used To Feed People Than Landfilled.

Campaigns have been started to raise awareness of food waste and educate people on how to reduce it. In Germany, a campaign called “Too Good To Go” helps restaurants sell their extra meals for cheap to those who are willing to pick them up at closing time.

Washington, DC and California’s Bay Area have “ugly produce” programs that sell ugly fruits and vegetables for cheap to those who can’t afford the perfect looking ones found in grocery stores. And the French supermarket chain Intermarche uses eye-catching advertisements on it food packaging to call attention to how much of it ends up in landfills.

In many states, some people are starting to use food waste to feed livestock. In Washington State, a new law requires that all large producers of agricultural products compost their leftovers if they’re within 50 miles of a composting facility.

Many state agencies have been encouraging more people to recycle food waste through the commercial composting process. In California, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is encouraging schools to compost their food waste.

Organic Waste Is Better Off Being Fed To Livestock Than Landfilled.

Food-waste policies and campaigns have been created nationwide to help reduce organic waste and prevent it from ending up in landfills.

People are beginning to feed food scraps to livestock in states where it is legal.

Organic waste is better off being used to feed people than landfilled.

Campaigns have been started to raise awareness of food waste and educate people on how to reduce it.

Confusing date labels are making organic waste even worse.

Rural recycling hit hard by shifting scrap market

Excerpt: “Everything from tin cans to newspapers is collected curbside and set out at the curb for recycling. But one local recycling company has seen a downturn in its business this summer, and that’s hurting rural recycling programs.

The problem is China. For years, China has been able to buy our recycled paper and plastic to make products like teddy bears.

But recently, it has stopped buying recycled goods from the United States. China is now recycling its own products.”

Reducing the impact of waste food by feeding the soil

Excerpt: “Food scraps in landfills emit large amounts of methane, which contributes to climate change. So why not recycle food waste rather than throwing it in the trash?

One answer is that when organic matter decomposes in a landfill, it’s sealed off from air and water, which slows down the process by which bacteria break down organic matter.

“In a landfill, there’s no air or water,” explains David Johnson, an agricultural extension engineer with the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences. “It’s like a compost pile.”

Recycling food waste and other organic materials for use as fertilizer offers several advantages over landfilling:

Better nutrient recycling: When organic matter decomposes in a landfill, it’s sealed off from air and water, which slows down the process by which bacteria break down organic matter.

Landfilling is not biodegradable: “In a landfill, there’s no air or water,” explains David Johnson, an agricultural extension engineer with the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences. “It’s like a compost pile.”

In contrast, recycling food waste and other organic materials to use as fertilizer offers several advantages over landfilling.”

Stormwater Best Management Practices

(BMPs) are techniques that help to restore stormwater runoff back into the environment in the most ecologically-friendly way possible.

Because organic waste is a part of stormwater run off, it’s best to separate organics from other types of refuse and recycle them when possible.

The presence of food in landfills creates methane gas, which is detrimental to the environment. Methane gas also contributes to smog and acid rain.

How To Separate Organics From Other Refuse

Often times, organic waste can’t be recycled with other types of refuse. There are some instances where your city’s recycling center may separate organics for you, but not all do. Therefore, it’s important to know how to separate organic waste from other types of refuse on your own.

Food cans and boxes that aren’t broken down into smaller pieces of paper or plastics are often times not recyclable in the same bins as other types of recyclable items. Organics should be separated out because they may attract pests and vermin.

This is why it’s important to do your research and find out what kind of recycling programs you city has available before throwing away organic waste into a landfill or anywhere else.

What Kind Of Equipment Does A Recycling Center Have?

If your city recycles yard debris, such as grass clippings and leaves, it’s possible that they also separate organic waste from other types of refuse.

Many cities and towns operate recycling centers and will generally have the necessary equipment to separate organic refuse from other types of refuse. If you’re not sure, you can always call your city’s department of public works or another applicable department and ask if they have a recycling program.

Alternatives To Landfills

The alternative to using a landfill is composting yard waste and other types of organic refuse yourself. This will keep your organic refuse out of landfills altogether and allow you to use items such as grass clippings for compost or mulch in your garden, depending on the type of organic refuse you’re dealing with.

If your city and state recycle yard debris, such as grass clippings and leaves, most cities and towns have recycling centers where you can drop off organic refuse for recycling. If they don’t, ask if there are any local resources that help people recycle organics in your area or neighboring areas. Often times, nearby cities or towns will have programs for recycling yard debris.

Once you know what is recyclable in your area, it’s easy to recycle most organic refuse by simply separating them out from other types of refuse. The only exception to this is food scraps because they must be dealt with separately due to their potential to attract pests, vermin, and other similar problems.

If your city or town doesn’t recycle organic refuse or if you don’t know what they do with it, the best option is to compost organic waste instead of throwing them away in landfills. The next best option for non-recyclable organic garbage is to simply throw it away in a landfill.

Additional Information & Resources

Spreading organic waste on agricultural land can be beneficial for farmers and gardeners because it creates healthier soils, which will yield larger crops with less environmental harm.

However, composting yard debris at home is the best option if you don’t have access to a recycling center or your city doesn’t recycle organic refuse.

Making your own compost allows you to use food scraps and larger pieces of organic garbage for a purpose instead of simply throwing them away in landfills.

If you don’t want to make your own compost, yard debris can be donated to local gardening communities or recycling centers.

The Advantages of Halogenated Organic Waste Recycling