So we generate a lot of food waste. It’s pretty heavy stuff, and going to the landfill it is charged by the ton. Landfills are filling up.
Here in Santa Barbara, our local one will close in 15 years unless our waste management dramatically improves. And, in the anaerobic environment of landfills, food waste generates methane, 20 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Perhaps it is better used then, to make healthy soil amendments that do not require the fracked natural gas found in conventional fertilizers.
Composting food scraps is the next big – and necessary – thing, unless economically viable and clean waste to energy solutions appear.
Portland collects trash twice a month now, and green waste including kitchen scraps weekly. The difference from one quarter to another, a year later, was 10,000 tons of trash or 1800 fewer garbage truck trips! A popular Ashland restaurant went from 9 big trash cans to a half of one weekly, saving $200/month. Last year, San Francisco composted their millionth ton in their mandatory program. New York City spends over $80 million just to export their food waste to rot in another state’s landfill. They are beginning a compost collection program in schools and other institutions.
After a few years in the works, Santa Barbara’s composting program now includes all city schools, 135 restaurants and commercial kitchens, Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic. The clinic will be composting those thousands of table papers that you sit on once and then get tossed, along with their hand towels and other compostable waste, reducing their trash output to 20%, all the rest recycled or composted. UCSB has a program, as does SBCC’s Culinary Arts, which is training their chefs to go out in the world and cook, and then compost. The City is saving money and sending less to the dump. Vineyards, landscapers and local parks all have better soil for it. And you can buy the sweet smelling rich loamy end result of our food waste at Goleta Building Materials and Agri-Chip.