Ohio Food Scraps Recovery Initiative
Did you know that each year a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste? In Ohio, that’s enough food scraps to pile on a football field as high as the Willis Tower (ex-Sears Tower) (more than 1,450 feet)! Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high!
Up to 90 percent of waste thrown out by supermarkets and restaurants is food scraps. In fact, food scraps are the third largest segment of the waste stream with nearly 26 million tons generated each year. Unfortunately, it is also the least recovered. If the 26 million tons of food scraps generated annually were composted rather than landfilled, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by more than 21.5 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. This savings is equivalent to the removal of more than 4 million cars from the roadways each year, conserving more than 2 billion gallons of gasoline, or providing annual electricity needs to more than 2.5 million homes!
Whenever possible, the generation of food scraps should be minimized through source reduction and donations to local food banks (U.S. EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy). Still, even the most efficient purchasing programs by businesses and consumers will inevitably result in the generation of food scraps.
Ohio EPA encourages communities and businesses to divert food scraps from landfills by utilizing composting, anaerobic digestion, and other alternatives. Not only does the environment benefit from keeping food scraps out of landfills, but communities and businesses can save money by reducing their disposal costs. Through the composting process, food scraps are transformed into a rich organic soil builder that can be used in gardens and landscapes to provide many benefits to the soil. In addition to producing compost, using microbes that produce methane gas during the anaerobic digestion process generate renewable energy. As a result, a material that may have been taken to the landfill will instead add value to the land and offer solutions to energy needs.