Access to citywide commercial composting is still largely limited in the United States, but we’ve come a long way in recent years. Composting now recovers more than 20 million tons of waste annually, according to the most recent EPA data available.
In a recent report submitted to the EPA, the nonprofit research organization Econservation Institute identified more than 180 commercial and residential food scraps collection programs across the nation, in communities with populations less than 200 on up to ones with more than 600,000.
Composting recovers more than 20 million tons of waste annually, according to the EPA.
Despite these encouraging numbers, recovered organics still amount to less than a third of the material that could be composted – meaning we still have a lot of work to do.
So, how has commercial composting evolved? Where is it headed, and what can greenies to do help? Check out this run-down of composting in the U.S. for the answers.
How it all started
As the modern recycling movement flourished, organics quickly emerged in the forefront as one of the key problem areas for landfill waste diversion.
By the early 1990s, 23 states had banned yard trimmings from landfills and early programs were exploring commercial food scrap collection from grocery stores and other large food service businesses.
According to a 2010 report from the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry, it was originally believed that industry-based programs would be more cost effective, as organics were “already aggregated in large volumes at each collection point.”
More recently, municipal programs have set their sights on curbside pickup of food scraps and other organics from residents, expanding to the commercial sector once programs matured.
In the late 1990s, San Francisco rolled out its groundbreaking three-cart system, providing residents with separate receptacles for rubbish, recyclables and organics.
The budding composting trend spread to the Midwest by 2000, when Swift County, Minn. began offering food waste collection to its 4,300 households.
Where we’re headed
In 2009, San Francisco became the first city to make food waste recycling mandatory, and it surpassed 1 million tons of food scraps collected in 2011.
Other municipalities with commercial composting in place range from the progressive cities you’d expect – like Portland, Seattle and Boulder, Colo. – to some you wouldn’t, such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fairborn, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Mich.
While the majority of Americans still don’t have access to municipal composting, services are expanding at a remarkable rate. A recent survey conducted by BioCycle Magazine found that curbside food waste collection increased by more than 50 percent from 2009 to 2012.
How you can help
If you live in a city that already has commercial composting available, the best thing you can do to help spread the trend is to participate in your local program – as other city governments likely have their eye on its performance.
Luckily, top brands are taking notice of growing consumer interest in green practices and are developing innovative products to make protecting the planet easier and more convenient.
To help residents deal with the potential “yuck” factor of collecting food scraps for curbside composting, SC Johnson recently launched a line of Ziploc® Brand Compostable Food Scrap Bags to make disposing of organics clean and easy – even if composting is new to you.
For those who enjoy the convenience of other Ziploc® Brand bags, the company also offers other alternatives that keep food fresh without the waste. Its new Ziploc® Brand Compostable Sandwich Bags and 15-quart sized Ziploc® Brand Compostable Food Storage Bags are available exclusively online at SCJGreenChoices.com and provide an environmentally-friendly food storage solution.
“At SC Johnson, part of our sustainability efforts include making innovative, effective household products that are better for the environment and future generations,” says Kelly Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson. “The introduction of our new Ziploc® Brand Compostable Bags is an extension of that commitment and we are proud to make products that have a positive impact, without compromising the quality that our consumers expect.”
All three bag types are certified compostable under ASTM D6400 by the Biodegradable Products Institute and can be composted in commercial composting facilities that accept food scraps and compostable bags.
To learn more about Ziploc® Brand Compostable Bags or purchase some for your home, visit SC Johnson’s Green Choices Marketplace online.
Source : earth911