The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released two new reports quantifying methane emissions from landfilled food waste and updating recommendations for managing wasted food. In a press release, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said, “These reports provide decision-makers with important data on the climate impacts of food waste through landfill methane emissions and highlight the urgent need to keep food out of landfills.”
The reports’ findings emphasize the importance of reducing the amount of this type of waste and managing its disposal in more environmentally friendly ways. Based on these findings, EPA is releasing an update to its Food Recovery Hierarchy to help decision-makers, such as state and local governments, understand the best options for managing the waste regarding environmental impacts.
The release of the new ranking – the Wasted Food Scale – marks the first update since the 1990s, reflecting more recent technological advances and changes in operational practices. EPA’s research confirms that preventing food from being wasted in the first place, or source reduction, is still the most environmentally beneficial approach. Evidence in these reports suggests that efforts should focus on ensuring less food is wasted to divert it from landfills, which will reduce environmental impacts.
The research announced on Thursday, October 19, represents the first time EPA has quantified methane emissions from landfilling. This work published modeled estimates of annual methane emissions released into the atmosphere from landfilled food waste, giving a cost of landfilling the waste in terms of the impact on climate change.
EPA analyzed to estimate annual methane emissions from landfilled this type of waste from 1990 to 2020 and found that while total emissions from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are decreasing, methane emissions from landfilled food waste are increasing. These estimates indicate that diverting edible and non-edible food from landfills effectively reduces methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas, from MSW landfills.
“From Field to Bin: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste Management Pathways,” which examines the environmental impacts of disposing of food waste. This report synthesizes the latest science on the environmental impacts of how food waste is commonly managed in the U.S. This report completes the analysis that began in the 2021 companion report, “From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste,” which analyzed the environmental footprint of food waste in the farm to the consumer supply chain.
“Quantifying Methane Emissions from Landfilled Food Waste” represents the first time the EPA has published modeled estimates of annual methane emissions released into the atmosphere from landfilled food waste. More food reaches MSW landfills than any other material, but its contribution to landfill methane emissions has not been previously quantified.
SCS Engineers is a proud sponsor of the New Mexico Recycling & Solid Waste Conference, September 19-20, at the Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown.
The conference, themed “The Value of Materials & Relationships,” will include plenary sessions, breakout sessions, an awards ceremony, exhibitors, networking opportunities and more! The conference is jointly hosted by The New Mexico Recycling Coalition and the New Mexico SWANA Roadrunner Chapter, and will cover such topics as recycling, composting, landfill operations, transfer stations, and much more!
SCS professionals are presenting at the conference, including
We hope to see you there!
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reminded all stakeholders that enforcing the state’s new food diversion regulations begins April 1, 2023. The law governing these regulations, entitled “Solid Waste Management – Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion – Food Waste,” was enacted on January 1, 2023.
Diversion reduces waste at final disposal sites, such as landfills and incinerators. Food residuals include edible and nonedible materials derived from pre- and post-consumer vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, and meats.
A facility must implement food diversion techniques if it generates at least two tons of food residuals per week. Affected facilities include businesses, public and private schools, supermarkets, and government-run cafeterias.
SCS Engineers advises facility owners and operators to review MDE’S Determination of Applicability to determine if they are subject to enforcement. MDE strongly recommends that facility owners and operators submit a Waiver Application Form if they believe they are not subject to enforcement or cannot comply with the regulations.
Maryland generates an estimated 1.86 million tons of compostable materials and 927,926 tons of food waste annually. Although a major waste component, only a small amount is reused or recycled. What remains ends up being disposed of in landfills or incinerated. Diverting edible foods can help address the 1 in 8 (12.5%) food-insecure Marylanders. Preventing food scrap and organics disposal using methods such as composting or donating to those in need conserves energy and resources, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
SCS Engineers is a Silver Sponsor of the ninth Global Waste Management Symposium in Indian Wells, California, February 25-28, 2024.
The GWMS serves as a forum to discuss applied and fundamental research, case studies and policy analysis on solid waste and materials management. The community of researchers, engineers, designers, academicians, students, facility owners and operators, regulators and policymakers will participate.
The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is a strategic partner of the symposium.
Applying the Lessons Learned – 1383 Compliance to your composting and food recovery planning can help make your program more sustainable.
SCS Engineers developed an SB 1383 Roadmap, which we customized for each municipality. The Roadmap outlines the requirements of SB 1383 by topic and by the responsible party. The Roadmap helped municipalities to plan for SB 1383 compliance, including a schedule for implementation, monitoring, reporting, and enforcement. Because SB 1383 is not only the responsibility of the Solid Waste Department, the Roadmap outlines the responsibilities of other municipal departments, including Administration, Finance, Purchasing, Fleet, Parks, etc.
SB 1383 requires the completion of capacity studies for organic waste recycling and edible food recovery. The Organic Waste Recycling capacity planning includes collecting data on the amount of organic waste (in tons) that will be disposed of, the amounts in tons of existing organic waste recycling infrastructure, both within and outside the county, that is available, and the amount of new or expanded capacity that will be needed to process the organic waste identified as being disposed of.
For the edible food recovery capacity planning, the counties had to estimate the amount of edible food that would be disposed of by commercial edible food generators, the existing capacity for food recovery organizations available in the County, the proposed or expanded food recovery organization that will be used to recover the edible food generated, and the new or expanded capacity that is necessary to recover the edible food that is generated.
It is a challenge for municipalities to meet these requirements, but feasible and sustainable using the SB 1383 Roadmap. Learn more on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at the USCC Compost 2023 conference. During Session D1, the California Track Regulatory Trends and Experience at 8:15 – 9:45 am, Srividhya Viswanathan and Michelle Leonard discuss the Lessons Learned – 1383 Compliance, much of which is applicable for many evolving programs nationwide.
Recently, Waste360 published “Organics Diversion Drives Changes in Landfill Operators’ Roles,” an article examining the evolving role of landfill operators in organics waste diversion. Five industry leaders provide insight into how landfill operators and the solid waste industry are adapting to accommodate the evolution and the cost of organics management.
The article provides best practices, strategies, technology, and systems that could support or supplement landfill operators’ response plans to the changing policies and contract requirements in more economically sustainable ways. Waste360 rounds up answers to the most common challenges operators and public works departments face including how to reduce permitting time, cost, and environmental impact.
EBJ announced on January 23 that it is honoring SCS Engineers with multiple awards for environmental business achievements, advanced technology, and another for ASP composting project merit. The official awards ceremony takes place during EBJ’s Environmental Industry Summit XVIII in San Diego, California, in March.
SCS is receiving the Gold Business Achievement Award for a Large Environmental Firm, for outstanding business performance in 2019. We largely attribute our organic growth to our clients interested in Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) and renewable natural gas (RNG) services. Our SMM programs increase our clients’ solid waste management efficiencies, reduce waste, and support sustainable recycling, and our design and design/build facilities convert landfill gas, dairy digester gas, and wastewater treatment plant digester gas to RNG. In addition, SCS’s Geographic & Practice Area Expansion initiative in 2019 enables us to expand our professional engineering and consulting services for liquids management, wastewater treatment, and emerging contaminants from new offices in the South, Central, and Midwest regions of the United States.
The Information Technology Award for SCS Remote Monitoring and Control® (SCS RMC®) software is especially gratifying. SCS RMC technology helps lower landfill operating costs and maximize gas capture by integrating next-generation supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) opportunities such as 3D imaging from drones and virtual reality (VR). Beyond typical SCADA features, our system uses aerial data to compose topographic mapping, 2D images, and 3D renderings. SCS RMC can also incorporate geographic information systems (GIS), thermal, near-infrared, and methane leak detection data. The 3D model in use by San Bernardino County and other clients incorporates a Microsoft HoloLens VR headset that allows executives, facility management, and operators to “walk the site” from their offices, as well as view and control equipment remotely from almost any internet-connected mobile device. The technology integrates with our SCSeTools® platform, in use on over 600 landfills that help facilities continually gauge operational health and spot trends that help determine when and how to invest in infrastructure.
The Environmental Services Division of the city of San Diego, in collaboration with SCS Engineers, is receiving the Composting Project Merit Award in recognition for the composting operation at the Miramar Landfill in San Diego. In collaboration with the City, SCS designed an innovative covered Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting system that will divert 100,000 tons per year of organic waste from the landfill. The ASP became operational in August 2019 and will compost 40,000 tons per year into useful by-products (and has capacity for an additional 20,000 tons). It provides an enhanced stormwater control system, and will eventually run on renewable energy generated from the landfill. According to the StopWaste.com calculator, the upgrade reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 19,015 cars from the road.
In addition, the recent announcement of SCS’s ASP Composting Pilot Program is making headlines. SCS owns a covered ASP compost system that is mobile and can be set-up on sites within an area of 50 feet by 100 feet, or less. In the covered ASP compost system, process and odor control is pro-active with a shorter composting period. Pilot tests allow waste managers to assess composting and to see if it is the right fit for their situation. The ASP system processes material batches in two months. Additional batches or “recipes” can test in 2-month intervals.
“Managing air, water, and soil pollution prevention are driving state and local regulations,” said Bob Gardner, a Senior Vice President of SCS Engineers. “Offsetting as much of the cost by improving operations, lowering energy consumption, and switching to renewable energy resources is critical to our clients.”
About SCS Engineers
SCS, an employee-owned environmental consulting and construction firm, is celebrating our 50th year in business. We are producing technologies and programs that lower industrial operating costs and reduce greenhouse gases for private and public clients who are establishing goals to reduce their environmental impact.
Our technologies and programs are finding footholds in the agricultural, industrial, and manufacturing sectors as municipalities and companies aim to reach climate change goals without passing all of the expense to consumers. SCS clients entrust us with the management of more than 35 million metric tons of anthropogenic CO2e greenhouse gases every year. We collect and beneficially use or destroy enough to offset greenhouse gas emissions from 7.4 million passenger cars annually.
Many state and provincial governments have begun promulgating policies and regulations that target the recycling of organics prompting local solid waste agencies to develop advanced municipal curbside collection programs.
A key question for local solid waste agencies to answer is, what types of organic wastes will be targeted for collection and processing? SCS Engineers covers this and other facets to consider as part of your plan, such as: