Ohio is a medium sized midwestern state in the United States, and its also my home! I (Paige) am from Cleveland, Ohio, a small city in northeastern Ohio that sits on the coast of Lake Erie, a huge freshwater lake. Like most midwestern states, Ohio has a large agricultural community. The most popular products grown in Ohio are soybeans, corn, and dairy products. There are no laws in Ohio that mandates food waste prevention, and there are no incentives in place to reward business or communities for diverting food waste. However, Ohio’s government has taken small measures to use surplus food.
The Ohio Food Purchase Agricultural Clearance Program motivates farmers to donate their surplus food to local food banks by reimbursing them for the time and money it takes to organize and transport the food to a food shelter. The Ohio Food Scrap Recovery Initiative is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and works to encourage businesses and community members to make better buying choices and to divert their food waste to composting facilities. The EPA tries to encourage the public to do this through educating them on the issue. The method of education mostly consists directing people to information that is on the EPA’s website, or occasional public seminars on food waste. The Ohio Food Scrap Recovery Initiative is not very publicized, so most Ohioans are unaware this information exists. There is still a lot of waste prevention work that needs to be done in Ohio, but the issue of food waste is barely on the government’s, and public’s, consciousness
One would think that the gorgeous, skyscraping mountains that characterize my (Cat’s) home state, Colorado, would make such an impression on our policy-makers that we’d have more ecologically conscious laws than other states. However, Colorado falls devastatingly short on much environmental legislation, including laws involving food waste. We have no state laws that mandate corporate or small-business food recovery. If anything, our strict health and safety legislature usually makes it even harder for food retailers to voluntarily redistribute food waste. As a result, food redistribution often doesn’t happen at all.
Even if Colorado hasn’t gotten too far on the policy front, we’re fortunate that several major businesses and grassroots organizations have sprouted into existence to address food waste in various ways. Colorado Springs Food Rescue and the Boulder Food Rescue coordinate with area grocery stores and restaurants to collect food that would otherwise have gone to waste, then deliver it to nonprofits and hunger relief efforts. Another organization, the Heartland Biogas Project, collects food waste from the most populous areas of Colorado and harnesses it to create both compost and methane fuel. Under other circumstances, food waste would simply rot in a landfill and produce environmentally harmful methane, and that methane would go to waste, so the project endeavors to ensure this doesn’t happen. Other independent facilities around Colorado collect and utilize compostable food and kitchen grease and oils.
Politically, Colorado has a long way to run on its path to food waste mitigation, but pioneering grassroots organizations and businesses have established a formidable first milestone. I recommend legislators and stateside pioneers alike keep looking to the soaring Rocky Mountains to remember why saving this planet–and this lovely state–is so beyond crucial, now more than ever.
Minneapolis: a city home to me (Moriah), frigid winters, endless small lakes and biking paths, yummy, ethnic food, and… progressive policies pushing it towards being a zero-waste city?! I love Minneapolis for all of its “foodie” events and hip restaurants. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot going on in the food waste front, too.
According to studies done by Hennepin County (the county that Minneapolis is in), 38% of waste that ends up in trash incinerators can be composted. That’s a lot of nutrient rich organic matter being wasted! After seeing these results, the city of Minneapolis decided to roll out a curbside organics program. If you’re a resident of Minneapolis, the only thing you have to do is fill out a form online if you want an organics basket at your home. There’s no extra cost (besides what you already pay for your normal trash and recycling service) and it’s collected weekly along with the rest of the trash. There are also seven organics sites around the cities for residents living in apartments or places where they don’t have their own trash. Though this program was rolled out in fall 2015, as of October 12th, 2016, 40% of Minneapolis residents with Solid Waste and Recycling services have already signed on.
To take this service a step further, the city decided to take an educational approach to the issue by tagging bags with non-compostable products or yard waste in them and not picking them up. In this way, residents are easily able to learn how their baskets should be changed for future pickup. Moving forward, policymakers are going to focus on boosting organics collection among apartments and commercial properties. All of this being said, the service is unfortunately voluntary and institutional sources and large commercial sources are big contributors to waste as well.
Minneapolis is widely recognized as a regional and national leader when it comes to food waste reduction and recycling. We have a citywide goal to reduce and compost 50% of all waste by 2020 and 80% by 2030, which is pretty awesome!
What do you think about our food waste organizations, efforts and policies in the United States? Comment on Facebook to chat more
Cat Braza, Moriah Maternoski and Paige Anton