What becomes of food waste?
Food waste collected from homes and businesses typically is destined for one of four different end uses: 1. Food donation programs, in which edible food is redistributed from the commercial sector – including produce markets and restaurants – to nonprofit feeding organizations like food banks and homeless shelters; 2. Animal feed (farmers collect inedible produce and bakery waste to create feed blends for cattle, pigs and other farm animals); 3. Rendering facilities, in which food service fats, bones and grease are re-constituted into products such as animal food, cosmetics and soap; and 4. Composting, either on site at institutions like universities or off site at commercial composting facilities. According to an article in BioCycle magazine, 118 composting facilities nationwide are accepting food waste from industrial, commercial and institutional generators.
For more information about food waste recovery options, see EPA’s “Don’t Throw Away That Food: Strategies for Record-Setting Waste Reduction.” The fact sheet series, developed for EPA by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington, D.C., includes information on the benefits of food waste recovery; answers to frequently asked questions; and several model programs in the public and private sectors. The fact sheets can be downloaded in pdf format from www.epa.gov/epaoswer/nonhw/reduce/food/food.htm