Food Waste and Highland Park’s Food Scrap Composting Program

By Dolijansuren Sukhbaatar for SUST 210 online

Food waste is one of major problems that we are facing today. Food waste has a lot of consequences both financially and environmentally. According to a 2013 report by the United Nations Environment Programme, in the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion, is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. All of this food waste entering landfills greatly impacts the environment and contributes to global warming.

Sukhbaatar image - food wasteThere are many factors that contribute to the food waste and one of the factors is date labels for foods. According to the a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, 54% of consumers say eating food past its sell-by or use-by date is a health risk. Before throwing away based on the date label, we should smell and taste to check if it okay to eat or not. According a 2011 survey conducted by the Food Marketers Institute, researchers found that 91 percent of consumers occasionally discarded food past its sell-by date out of concern for the product’s safety; 25 percent said they always did so. Therefore, the date label is one of the great factors that increases the food waste.

Highland Park resident William Bogot was one of 140 in a growing pilot program that was put on hold in April as the city looked for another site to haul food scraps for composting (photo: D. Bucksten, Chicago Tribune)

Highland Park resident William Bogot was one of 140 in a growing pilot program that was put on hold in April as the city looked for another site to haul food scraps for composting (photo: D. Bucksten, Chicago Tribune)

Despite the large amount of food waste we produce, we can still have a positive outcome result from this. This food waste is not worthless if we can still use it and turn it into something that will help our environment positively. And that is exactly what Highland Park IL is planning to do. Highland Park’s Natural Resources Commission has recently reopened its eight-month composting program aimed at expanding a 140-family pilot program.

Composting is a way of nature to recycle all the decayed organic materials. According to the Chicago Tribune’s report, the foods scraps composting program is scheduled to run through November, suspend operations from December through the end of March, and then resume. I think it is a great and very easy way to help our environment. Considering the amount of food waste our communities each year, it would not be difficult to find food scraps for composting. Hopefully, by using this method, it will encourage everyone to participate and support it. Everyone benefits from this: the people and the environment.

Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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