BioCycle November 2005, Vol. 46, No. 11, p. 4
AN ARTICLE featured in a recent edition of our local newspaper reported on college students demonstrating the importance of cutting campus waste.
These students are specifically targeting food waste from their dining hall – seeking to have Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania purchase a food pulper, which would condense discarded food residuals, drain the liquid and allow the material to be used for composting. A petition was circulated for the request. “It will help make us a more environmentally friendly college,” says Liz Schmitt, a junior and demonstration coordinator. The college effort reflects the growing awareness of the connections among the wastes generated, and how they can be processed into resources for improving soil and water quality, and become feedstocks for renewable energy creation. It also ties in directly with getting the edible food that would normally be discarded to those who need it, and wasting less in the fields where fruits and vegetables are grown. In this issue of BioCycle (page 54), Tim Jones of the University of Arizona continues his series of articles explaining how food losses are having a major negative economic, environmental and societal impact in North America. In his work as an applied researcher in anthropology, Dr. Jones shows how food losses through agricultural practices and discard of reusable resources definitely hurt our economy and environment. That loss adds up to about 15 percent of the waste stream going to landfills – and also prevents great amounts of nutrients from reaching needy persons through food banks and local distribution methods. To make sure his message is reaching more people, Dr. Jones will be a keynote speaker at the BioCycle West Coast Conference: Composting, Organics Recycling and Renewable Energy in Portland, Oregon, March 20-22, 2006. His message will facilitate food recovery and gleaning methods – and drive home the closed circle of the food delivery system that connects residuals to compost production to compost use to grow food crops that starts the process all over again. Equally important, Dr. Jones’ message will help launch the theme of the 2006 West Coast conference: The role of organics recyclers in building sustainable cities and communities. Metro, the Portland regional solid waste agency, is a leader in the nation when it comes to the links between food recovery programs with area food banks and community service providers, then capturing the nonedible food for diversion to composting. Other speakers will carry that compost connection into the agricultural community, highlighting the role compost plays in improving crop yields, suppressing plant diseases and reducing irrigation needs. The sustainability theme gains strength as the agenda moves into organics recycling and production of renewable energy and biofuels, and the innovative compost-based technologies that help control erosion and storm water – allowing city funds to be directed away from high cost storm water collection and treatment systems and into public education and public health. And to better fulfill the goals illustrated by the Muhlenberg College students – and many others – BioCycle editors have completed the contents of a new book titled: Food Residuals Composting: Processes, Policies, Profits. From building residential and commercial generator participation, to optimizing collection routes, to selecting which composting and digestion systems work best for your needs, this latest BioCycle guide provides the roadmap to help move your community to sustainability. – J.G.