Giving Compass' Take:

• Landfill systems take in organic matter and compost waste, despite the existing composting facilities that help dramatically reduce emissions. 

• How can we innovate this system to encourage more people to compost? How can donors play a role in curbing climate change by addressing landfill systems? 

• Read about managing plastic waste by measuring it. 

How about this for a series of maddening statistics?

  • Landfills in the United States generate 15 percent of the country’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with a potential warming impact 34 times that of carbon dioxide.
  • The single largest input into U.S. landfills is food waste, yard trimmings and other organic matter.
  • Sending organic matter to composting facilities rather than landfills dramatically lowers emissions — in fact, expanding composting globally would avoid or capture the equivalent of around 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050.
  • Only 4 percent of U.S. households are served by a municipal composting service.
  • Most commercial food waste is also dumped, meaning that just 6 percent of all U.S. food waste is diverted from landfill or combustion.

In summary: This is crazy. We’re dumping the feedstock for a valuable agricultural resource in landfills, where rather than fertilizing crops it generates emissions that accelerate the climate crisis.

I wasn’t aware of quite how broken this system is until I moderated a panel on composting infrastructure at Circularity 20 last week. (Video of the panel soon will be online — sign up for Circularity updates to get notified when that happens.) Afterwards, I called up my fellow moderator Nora Goldstein, editor of Biocycle magazine, in search of solutions.

Structural change will require government action such as California’s SB 1383, which commits the state to reducing organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. (Climate Solution of the Year, according to one industry publication.) But that doesn’t mean the industry can't take smaller steps without outside help. I heard a bunch of exciting ideas in the panel, during my conversation with Goldstein and in emails I received after the event.

Read the full article about food waste by Jim Giles at GreenBiz.