As noted in Waste360, SWANA’s recent report, “Reducing Contamination in Curbside Recycling Programs,” shows stubborn resistance to recycling even after an intense education and enforcement campaign in two towns. A bit more than one-quarter of the households simply didn’t seem to care. While the solid waste industry finds that hard to comprehend, we’re always looking for solutions, and we don’t give up.
Here’s a simple set of recommendations from Consumer Reports published in September for using less plastic. After all, if you don’t recycle, at least try to use less plastic! Most of the recommendations will save you a lot of money and are easy to do, some of which you’re probably already doing.
Thanks to Consumer Reports for its outstanding article that we share with you here.
When excess food at any stage of the food system can’t be diverted to people in need, the next best option is to feed it to animals. Even with the best systems in place to develop an efficient food system, there will always be some fraction that is not fit for consumption. This material should be recycled and reused to minimize the environmental burden and allow for recovery of part of the resources initially used in its production, processing and transport, creating a more circular food system.
In a circular system, food waste is recycled by treatment to stabilize it, anaerobic digestion and composting are common food waste treatment technologies used to stabilize waste and produce residual materials that can replenish the soil, thus contributing to a circular food system. While a circular system uses resources more efficiently, the approach is not without risk. The authors of this paper investigated heavy metals, halogenated organic compounds, foodborne pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the food system and their fates during digestion and composting.
While not impossible to mitigate, design, planning, and waste characterization play tremendous roles in sustainable systems.