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RE: [GreenYes] Regarding food waste in the sewer versus the garbage can:
Title: RE: [GreenYes] Regarding food waste in the sewer versus the garbage can:


I have to chime in on this one.  Although composting food waste is better than landfilling, it is not necessarily the best end use.  Below is the message I sent to Blair Pollock on 8/13.  If you have feedback on this approach, let me know.


Regarding fruit and vegetable waste - I know that you are probably just looking for the Landfill vs. Sewage question.  the short answer in your case would probably be the sewage treatment plant - but I would check with the plant manager first.  They will most likely place a surcharge on handling the extra solids.  Wastewater treatment facility managers I have talked to discourage this practice do to the unwanted increase in B.O.D. in their processing.  Different types of treatment plants with different processes, capacities and end uses of the sludge will have different abilities.  You may be able to combine it with the sludge during tertiary treatment, in the digester, or during aerobic composting.  Just to make sure you have checked all the options, please read on.

We advocate a hierarchical approach to food waste similar to the one that the USEPA has also adopted.  Here's a simplified description:

1.  Prevention - If there are changes in the processes that ultimately produce the fruit and vegetable waste that would eliminate this waste, these should be addressed first.  Some examples include:

School lunch programs - Offer Verses Serve, reuse tables
Restaurants - vegetable rejuvenation, just in time inventory, first in first out inventory management, portion control, reduced or eliminated garnishes, etc.

Grocery stores - just in time inventory, first in first out inventory management, mark down areas, etc.
Packagers - Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), sending aging food back to processors for gleaning and processing, etc.

2.  Human Consumption - Food suitable for consumption by people should go to people first
Food banks for less perishable foods
Gleaning from agricultural fields as well as neighborhood fruit trees
Rescue programs for prepared foods (same day use)
3.  Animal Feed - Food not suitable for human consumption may still be suitable for livestock
On-farm use for pre-consumer foods (non-meat/dairy)
Animal feed manufacturers for (usually) preconsumer foods (mostly non-meat/dairy)
Zoos and specialty farms for citrus or other foods not suitable for typical farm livestock
Licensed pig farmers for post consumer food scraps (must heat material for pathogen reduction, inspected by State Veterinarian in CA)

Rendering of grease, meat, and bone meal
4.  Industrial Use
Seeds and citrus peelings for oils
Other uses
5.  Composting, vermicomposting and co-composting
combine with bulking agent/carbon source for composting - on-site or at centralized facility (avoid meat or dairy)
Vermicompost as is on-site or at centralized facility (avoid meat, dairy, excessive citrus or oils)
Combine in digester phase of sewage treatment.

Hope this helps!

Terry S. Brennan
Integrated Waste Management Specialist
California Integrated Waste Management Board
P. O. Box 4025
Sacramento, CA 95812-4025
phone (916) 341-6578
fax (916) 319-7474

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