The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is hosting a virtual Sustainable Materials Management Summit on Tuesday, June 15.
This half-day virtual event will bring together the recycling, organics recovery, and resource management professionals. Industry leaders will discuss new US EPA recycling goals, food waste & organics recovery, pandemic responses, and lessons that can be applied as we move forward.
A bonus session at 1:30 pm ET, features case studies of successful SMM programs implemented to address:
WASTE EXPO 2020 is now a digital event called WasteExpo Together Online, and will be held September 14-17.
The conference will feature a business forum and 20 virtual sessions on food recovery, composting, organics recycling, including the following presentations by SCS Professionals.
The Food Recovery Forum (FRF) will cover the progress of food waste prevention and reduction, including these presentations by SCS professionals at the Reducing Food Waste and Increasing Recovery in Municipal, Regional, and State Programs sessions on Tuesday, September 15 – 2:15 pm – 3:00 pm EST:
At WasteExpo Together Online (WTO) these two sessions will air on Wednesday, September 16:
Share these valuable resources directly from the SCS Website.
ReFED, the San Francisco-based nonprofit committed to reducing food waste in the U.S., has released the Food Waste Action Guide for the foodservice and restaurant sectors, which state that there is a 16 million ton opportunity to reduce food waste and to recover the equivalent of 1.5 billion meals per year within the two sectors.
The guide follows the 2016 publication, A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent. Both publications were developed in partnership with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) along with input from more than 80 expert contributors and a number of restaurants across the country, are designed to help industry leaders develop and implement food waste reduction strategies.
They provide best practices and strategies as well as present a set of proven prevention, recovery and recycling solutions to help the foodservice and restaurant sectors prioritize and accelerate waste reduction activities. Food waste reduction is quickly becoming a key element of financial and reputational value for restaurants and foodservice providers.
By following the simple procedures governing selective routing in the commercial space, it is possible to turn a high disposal garbage collection system into a high diversion recycling system, without incurring additional costs or losing collection revenue. Read more…
Tracie Onstad Bills of SCS Engineers and Richard Gertman of For Sustainability Too explain the steps for commercial-stream routing and management of commercial recyclables with remarkable results in their Resource Recycling article published in June 2016.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Applied Research Foundation released a report concluding that: a significant amount of additional food waste processing capacity will be required to achieve national, state, provincial, and local food waste diversion goals. The report also emphasizes the need for local decision-making in selecting and implementing those food waste diversion programs.
…a significant amount of additional food waste processing capacity will be required to achieve national, state, provincial, and local food waste diversion goals. The report also emphasizes the need for local decision-making in selecting and implementing those food waste diversion programs.
The report goes on to say that interest in recovering food waste from municipal solid waste is growing to meet goals established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture, but many major metropolitan areas lack the infrastructure to manage the ability to meet the established goals. Two examples were cited:
Several states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, condition their food waste diversion requirements on the ability of generators to access adequate capacity within a certain distance.
Speaking as SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO David Biderman stated:
We believe that Americans need to rethink how food is handled before it is considered waste, to divert it into programs to feed people, and to find other productive uses for food as food. Once it becomes waste, however, municipal decision-makers, working with their processing partners, need to determine how to best manage the material.
The SWANA report focuses on the effects of food recovery at the two lowest tiers of the hierarchy – composting and landfilling/incineration. The report concludes that food waste diverted from landfill operations has the potential to be processed at composting facilities. Then, going on to say that anaerobic digestion (AD) and co-digestion at wastewater treatment facilities are also likely destinations for diverted food waste.
Jeremy O’Brien, Director of the Applied Research Foundation, noted:
The food recovery hierarchy does not apply universally; an analysis of greenhouse gas impacts based on local data and conditions is needed to identify the best food scraps management options for a specific community.
The report encourages solid waste managers to perform a life cycle analysis of economic and environmental costs and benefits based on local needs, system capabilities, and data to identify the most effective ways to manage food waste at the local level.
SCS Engineers and SWANA are both long-time advocates for local decision-making in establishing programs to collect and manage municipal solid waste.
by Tracie Onstad Bills, Northern California Director, Sustainable Materials Management at SCS Engineers
For many years source separation was the primary method for recycling. However, technology has changed how recyclables are collected and processed. China, the largest importer of materials for recycling now strictly enforces regulations on importing contaminated materials for recycling into the country. China’s Operation Green Fence puts restrictions on what material China will accept, rejecting materials that don’t meet higher standards of cleanliness; that means rejected materials get buried in a landfill instead of being recycled.
Regardless of the type of recycling program, the biggest challenge here at home is now minimizing contaminated recycling material. Communities are struggling to meet diversion goals and provide materials to local recyclers that are free of common contaminants such as liquids left in containers or motor oil. My SCS team has assisted communities in the last few years to address contamination issues and I’d like to share what works best to kick start addressing the issue at home.
Recycling Assessments: Conduct a visual and physical characterization study to identify contamination levels using one of these two methods for the evaluation:
Recycling Technical Assistance: Meet with local businesses and perform a walk-through of their facility to collect baseline waste assessment and material collection infrastructure information. This information can then be used to provide customized recycling and composting recommendations, and implementation support such as employee training sessions, providing signage and collateral, referrals, and multi-lingual outreach services.
Review and Analysis of Community Recycling Programs: Review and analyze your recycling program. An environmental engineer can provide recommendations and assessments on how a recycling program can be enhanced to reduce the quantity of contaminated materials. Services typically include everything from examining outreach materials to the flow of the recycling from generation to transport to processing.
Planning and Implementation of Behavior Change Programs: There is value in providing comprehensive programs and explicit outreach materials for increasing the probability of cleaner recycling. Behavior change programs focus on planning and implementing programs that identify key triggers to encourage action in the community. These programs help communicate the importance and value of specific activities to the community and cross any age and cultural barriers.
Contamination is a global problem and is challenging, but there are steps to minimize the problem in your community.
About Tracie Onstad Bills
Tracie Onstad Bills has been in the Environmental and Resource Material Management Field for over 20 years. Her expertise revolves around commercial recycling technical assistance, environmental purchasing, large venue and event zero waste programs, research and sustainability planning, garbage hauler franchise compliance and review, construction and demolition program / ordinance analysis and writing, climate inventory compilation, research and feasibility studies to help clients with comprehensive waste prevention and zero waste programs. Ms. Bills has a BA in Environmental Science from San Jose State University, is a CRRA Board member and belongs to the SWANA Gold Rush Chapter, National Recycling Coalition and the Northern California Recycling Association. Contact Tracie here.
Learn more on the SCS service pages and read SCS project case studies from across the nation to help fine tune your program:
SCS Engineers will evaluate the collection, hauling, and processing of organic material and food waste for Placer County in compliance with California’s recently adopted mandatory organics recycling law. According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the state disposes of approximately 30 million tons of waste in landfills each year, of which more than 30 percent could be used for compost or mulch.