As Seen on The Guardian: Corporate-Driven Composting Means Big Reductions in Food Waste

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As Seen on The Guardian: Corporate-Driven Composting Means Big Reductions in Food Waste

Big companies become role models when they turn food scraps into compost, use it in their corporate garden, serve that produce to employees – and then compost scraps from those meals, beginning the cycle anew
Pashon Murray, founder of compost company Detroit Dirt, adds hay to a composting pile that has just been filled with food scraps from the GM Renaissance Center. Photograph: Doug Coombe/Detroit Dirt

Pashon Murray, founder of compost company Detroit Dirt, adds hay to a composting pile that has just been filled with food scraps from the GM Renaissance Center. Photograph: Doug Coombe/Detroit Dirt

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Last year @GM's composting program collected 166,300 pounds of food scraps that were turned into #compost http://bit.ly/2knKWxR
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 1:20pm

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction

CONTENT: Article

Here’s some food for thought: about 31% of food in the US goes to waste and a shocking 97% of that ends up in landfills. No wonder that in 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture set a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030, by partnering with charities, faith-based organizations, local governments and the private sector.

From that last category, several businesses have jumped on board with one method of utilizing otherwise wasted food: composting, which the EPA says can improve soils, grow new crops and improve water quality. Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, started composting in 2005. The result? The stadium has diverted 164 tons of food from a landfill and is saving money on trash disposal.

General Motors has established a composting program at its global headquarters in Detroit. Last year, it collected 166,300 pounds of food scraps that were turned into compost. At the seven-tower complex, a coffee shop, gourmet restaurants and food court eateries have marked bins for coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, eggshells and other scraps.

Seeing how much food gets wasted helps restaurants become more efficient when ordering produce from grocers and local vendors. “You don’t realize how much waste you generate,” says Brad Schmidt, executive chef at the Andiamo restaurant, one of the participants in the composting program. “We thought we’d fill one container a week, but we’ve been averaging two a day.”

When food scraps end up in a landfill, they break down anaerobically like other trash, producing methane gas, which is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions. Composting food waste avoids these emissions and helps companies advance their sustainability goals.

At GM’s head offices, scraps are collected by a local business called Detroit Dirt, which carries out the composting process in a former industrial space. GM then buys back some of the nutrient-rich compost to use in a rooftop urban garden adjacent to its headquarters, which grows vegetables and herbs used by a restaurant in the complex. Then, produce scraps from that eatery’s kitchen are collected in food waste bins, starting the process again.

Employees at GM’s proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, participate in their own program, collecting scraps from their lunches. They’ve so far gathered 3,000 pounds of post-consumer food waste, diverting more than half of the cafeteria landfill waste stream. They recently started collecting compostables like coffee filters, paper towels and drinking station cups from their break rooms. Bonus: workers see how simple the process is and how they might start to compost at home.

 “For corporations pursuing zero-waste outcomes for their facilities, managing food waste is important,” said Brad McQuinston, account manager at Waste Management. “Although it takes a behavior change, several of our partners have created successful programs around composting.”

These steps can rally employees to the compost cause:

  • Label trash bins. Create one for food scraps with images of what can be composted, like eggshells, and what can’t, such as lunchmeat.
  • Make it convenient. Place the composting bin next to the regular trash can. Make sure it has a lid to prevent odors.
  • Demonstrate results. Show employees the fruits of their efforts, such as photos of an urban garden growing fresh herbs and vegetables.

Reposted from TheGuardian.com/General-Motors-Partner-Zone with permission.

Keywords: Responsible Production & Consumption | Detroit Dirt | Environment | Food Waste | GM | General Motors | The Guardian | Waste Reduction | composting

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction

CONTENT: Article