Why is food recycling important?

Recycling facility in Azusa

Recycling facility in Azusa

Too much food in the landfill

CVUSD students have already shown that they understand the importance of recycling bottles, cans and paper on campus. Thousands of pounds are diverted from landfills every day thanks to everyone’s hard work, recycling what was previously garbage back into usable goods. Now students are gearing up for the next challenge: food waste recycling.

California dumps about 30 million TONS of waste in landfills each year, almost one third of which is organic and could be re-purposed. Instead of filling up landfills with wasted food, we can divert it to the hungry or turn it into compost. The food recovery hierarchy from the EPA shows food recovery options from most preferred to least. 

Decomposition of organic materials, including wasted food, in landfills also produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). The greenhouse gases created by organic waste in landfills is a big contributor to climate change. So diverting wasted food is also a way to fight global warming. Recycling or recovering unwanted food, a component of organic waste, is part of California’s aggressive approach to reducing the pollution that causes climate change.

compost by EPA

Compost

What happens to recycled food waste?

Our local recycling service provider, Waste Management, will take un-recoverable food waste from your school to a local facility to convert it into compost. Compost is a nutrient rich, organic soil fertilizer that can be used in both home and commercial gardens.

 

Food is too essential to waste

Even better than turning still-edible food into compost is getting that food to people in need (see the EPA’s “food recovery hierarchy, above). The LAUSD, America’s second largest school district, has implemented a district wide food donation program on all its 1,100+ campuses, redirecting unopened, uneaten food from campuses to hungry people instead of the garbage.

Creative food rescue projects like the Ugly Fruit And Veg Campaign work to save healthy fruits and vegetables from becoming waste. Local organizations like Food Forward collects extra produce from farms and markets in Ventura County and redirects it to needy people.

There are also lots of resources out there to help you start your own on-campus composting program to create nutrient rich soil for your school or community garden! Everyone has a role to play in saving resources, wasting less food and reducing climate-warming pollution.