BioCycle World

BioCycle September 2016, Vol. 57, No. 8, p. 6

BioCycle REFOR16 Conference

BioCycle REFOR16 Updates

BioCycle’s 16th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, October 17-20, 2016 at the Royal Caribe in Orlando, Florida is the only national biogas conference for the biogas industry organized by the leaders of the U.S. Biogas Industry — BioCycle and the American Biogas Council (ABC). Articles in this issue’s Conference Preview provide a sampling of BioCycle REFOR16 content, starting with the Monday (Oct. 17) workshops: Managing Contaminants In Organic Waste Streams, organized by BioCycle and the Center for EcoTechnology, and Certifying Your Digestate, organized by ABC.

BioCycle REFOR16 is hosting ABC’s Biogas Industry Awards and Dinner on Tuesday, October 18 at 6:00 pm. Winners of ABC’s annual awards will be honored. Other BioCycle/ABC Networking Events include a Biogas Golf Open on October 17 in the afternoon, followed by a Happy Hour starting at 5:00 pm. Additional networking opportunities include breakfasts, lunches and refreshment breaks in the Exhibit Ballroom. Over 70 companies are represented at BioCycle REFOR16. www.biocyclerefor.com

Article Correction

BioCycle’s August 2016 cover story, “Compostable Products And Postconsumer Food Scraps,” erroneously reported that the WeCare Environmental, LLC mixed waste composting facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts was closed temporarily due to odors. This was referenced in context of why Save That Stuff, an organics collection service, was no longer taking separated organics from a client, Clover Food Lab, to WeCare in Marlborough.

The WeCare composting site was not closed due to odors, states Philip McCarthy, Jr., President of
 WeCare Environmental LLC. “WeCare had been and was processing into compost, all of the source separated organics (SSO) delivered to our facility until April 23, 2016, when due to the unexpected failure of our processing drum, we had to stop taking loads of SSO,” McCarthy explains. “The facility was in full operation in December 2015 when Save That Stuff stopped delivering organics to the WeCare facility, and it was ultimately Save That Stuff’s decision not to deliver organics to WeCare in Marlborough to be processed into compost from December 2015 to April 2016.”  WeCare expects to start accepting loads of organics again by the end of October 2016.

Wasted Food: U.S. EPA Call To Action

“Around the world, food is a source of pride, a source of identity, and a source of strength,” writes U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management Mathy Stanislaus in an Op-Ed piece. “Food powers our communities and our economy, and here in the United States it contributes $835 billion to the gross domestic product. But over the past three decades, we have allowed a growing percentage of nutritious and wholesome food to be lost or wasted. Today over 70 billion pounds of food is discarded in the U.S., most of it to landfills where it decays and contributes to climate change. Meanwhile, 48 million Americans —15 million of whom are children — live in households without secure access to food throughout the year.”

In September 2015, EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first-ever national goal to cut food waste and loss 50 percent by 2030. “We called for action across the entire food system, advancing a multistakeholder approach, to help make this goal a reality,” explains Stanislaus, describing a Call to Action as a living record of activities, proven strategies and creative ideas for reducing food loss and waste. He cites examples such as farmers creating ugly produce markets for off-spec and off-grade produce, food manufacturers using packaging to prolong shelf life and value, and communities creating food stewardship programs and working with faith-based organizations to promote recipes and ideas that maximize the value of food as a resource.

EPA created a new “living” website to capture best practices for reducing wasted food. It offers tools and case studies to solve specific problems. The issues/practices are broken out by stakeholder — production, manufacturing, retail/food services, consumers and donation, recovery/recycling and regulators/policy makers — to facilitate finding information built for them.

Communal fridge for donated food

Communal fridge for donated food

Communal Fridge

In an effort to combat the dual problem of food waste and food poverty, the Town Council in the Somerset (United Kingdom) town of Frome partnered with local social enterprise Edventure to create a large communal refrigerator. Inspiration came from the “solidarity fridges” of Spain. The result is a refrigerator that sits in a converted public toilet in Frome’s town center. Open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, anyone is welcome to donate food (with some exceptions like raw meat and raw fish) to the refrigerator, or take it out.

Large UK retailers like Griggs and Marks & Spencer have signed up to donate their leftovers, as well as local businesses and hotels. Anna Francis, Resilience Officer for the Town of Frome, told Munchies (a UK weblog), “We found out about the project because there are a series of solidarity fridges in Spain. And as a town council, we’re particularly keen to reduce food waste in Frome. We’ve got a partnership with a local social enterprise that trains young people in social entrepreneurship and we worked with them to set up the fridge.” Households can also participate in the donation program, but due to health regulations, it must be in-date, packaged, and unopened, or can be fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food Waste Diversion In São Paulo, Brazil

Estimates of food waste in Brazil indicate that, on average, 40,000 tons of food are thrown away daily. This is due, in part, to its tropical climate and a food distribution network that has limited refrigeration capacities, resulting in more spoiled perishable food. Many entities have been developing projects to address food loss and work toward waste reduction. One is the São Paulo-based “Invisible Food” project, which seeks to extend the lifetime of food products. In addition to pushing for City legislation that would require companies to donate food that may have lost its commercial value, but is still suitable for consumption, founders Daniela Leite, Flávia Vendramin and Sergio Ignacio are seeking funding to set up a food truck that would serve meals made from recipes that make the most out of “invisible” food, or products that are traditionally wasted. The trio has launched a website, comidainvisivel.com.br that serves as a food waste awareness tool.

Italy Adopts New Law To Reduce Food Waste

The Italian government has thrown its support behind new laws aimed at reducing food waste by 1 million tons per year throughout the country. The government’s goal is to make it easier for retailers and consumers to prevent food waste and increase donation, and to prioritize redistribution of excess food to those most in need. Italy currently wastes around 5.1 million metric tons of food annually, according to NewEurope.eu. Italian officials estimate that food waste results in a loss of more than a12 billion ($13.4 billion) per year.

The new laws simplify the bureaucratic process usually required for food donations to be made to charities, and eliminate roadblocks that discourage people from donating. Volunteers will be allowed to collect leftover food from fields, with the farmer’s permission, and businesses will receive a reduction on their disposal fees in relation to the amount of food they have donated. There will also be a huge push to challenge the cultural reluctance in Italy to take leftovers home from restaurants. This includes launching a campaign to rebrand “doggy bags” as “family bags” to make the practice more appealing. In addition, a public information campaign aiming to reduce food wastage will be rolled out.

Margretta (Meg) Morris (left)

Margretta (Meg) Morris (left)

NRC Lifetime Achievement Awarded To Meg Morris

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) recently honored Margretta (Meg) Morris (on left in photo), vice president of materials management and community affairs at Covanta, with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for her leadership in recycling. “Meg has dedicated her personal and professional life to the advancement of recycling,” said NRC Vice President Fran McPoland. “As a long-time NRC Board member, serving as president, chair, vice president and treasurer, Meg was a major force in the re-emergence of the NRC, helping organize the rebuilding of the organization and its finances.” With over 25 years of experience in sustainable materials management, Morris has worked with communities around the United States to implement sustainable waste management and recycling systems.

Waste Challenges Facing U.S. National Parks

Subaru of America, in conjunction with National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), conducted a survey to gauge Americans’ awareness of waste management challenges in national parks across the U.S. and their willingness to help solve the problems. Results show that 59 percent of those surveyed were not aware that any challenges existed. More than two-thirds (67%) of visitors make use of park recycling facilities; less than half (49%) sort trash and recycling into separate containers before leaving the park and only 2 in 5 take their trash with them when leaving. Although more than one-third (35%) of park visitors drink from disposable water bottles, nearly four out of five (79%) visitors would support removal of single use water bottles in national parks if it would significantly help reduce waste.

In addition to the Subaru National Park Survey, Subaru and NPCA recently concluded an in-depth waste characterization study that found a significant portion of the waste that the National Park Service (NPS) manages nationally — more than 50,000 tons/year — is brought in from outside the park. Plastic waste, such as water bottles, plastic bags, nonrecyclable or compostable food packaging, and paper hot cups, are the main drivers of waste sent to landfills and the biggest concern in the national parks.

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