With funding provided through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the EPA has announced two grants that could significantly improve progress toward the nation’s goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. I am developing a money program. The first program, the second grant program, targets solid waste infrastructure for recycling.
Government agencies are participating in several listening sessions, soliciting information from stakeholders on local needs, best practices, and models to consider in developing programs. NRDC believes four factors are important parts of the effectiveness of the grant program.
I. Recycling Infrastructure Grant Programs Must Include Garbage and Other Organic Materials
Food is the largest component of landfills nationwide. More than 36 million tons are dumped into landfills each year, accounting for 24% of his landfilled municipal solid waste. Food scrap (along with other organic matter) needs to be managed separately from other materials in municipal solid waste streams in order to achieve zero waste and climate goals at the local, state, and federal levels. there is. Despite our best efforts to prevent food from being wasted, there will always be inedible parts of food that need recycling. Food waste recycling not only diverts 20.9 million tonnes of material from landfills and prevents climate pollution of 4.94 million tonnes of CO2e from entering the atmosphere annually, but also generates net economic benefits of $239.7 million annually. may produce. Currently, there are more than 5,000 composting facilities nationwide, but only about 500 accept kitchen waste. Investments are required to support current composting operations that receive and process food waste, build new facilities at any scale, and add or expand organic matter collection. Federal grant programs to support recycling infrastructure must include recycling of organic matter and must explicitly include food scraps as a covered material.
Prevention and recycling of organic waste, including food waste, also helps alleviate important environmental justice considerations associated with landfills and incinerators. Nearly 80% of incinerators in the United States are located in chronically underresourced communities, mostly Black, Indigenous, or other people of color, causing environmental degradation, adverse health effects, and other burdens. To address longstanding inequalities, communities of color that have suffered the impact of environmental justice are prioritized in funding provided to support food scrap collection, recycling, and other materials management efforts. should be. At the same time, while composting infrastructure has less harmful environmental impact than landfills and incinerators, waste management facilities (including organic matter recycling facilities) should not be disproportionately located in communities of color. . To prevent this, one of the subsidy requirements should be site planning that incorporates significant community participation. The plan should include an assessment of the potential burden on surrounding communities and corresponding actions to address it.
II.Grant programs must fund evaluations, planning work, and policies
Proper planning, through assessment, planning, or other mechanisms, is the first step to a successful long-term working infrastructure project for the communities it serves. Through NRDC’s Food Matters initiative, we are helping the cities of Denver and Baltimore conduct food scrap recycling assessments and supporting the development of these feasibility studies to determine which composting infrastructure will best serve their communities. I recognized the importance. The assessment helped inform the city’s work plan and prioritize future actions. For example, based on assessments, the city of Denver is looking for ways to increase its composting infrastructure, and recently passed new laws making recycling and composting collection free, but refuse collection destined for landfills. has a monthly fee. Grant funding should include facility upgrades and new development of treatment and collection infrastructure, as well as support for assessments and other planning efforts.
In addition, state and local policies such as organic waste bans, waste diversion requirements, landfill taxes, pay-as-you-go policies, and efficient permits will expand food rescue and create new jobs, as well as recycling food scraps. has been proven to boost Infrastructure recycling is essential to support the implementation of these policies, but the planning and evaluation processes that need to be carried out to effectively implement these policies are costly. In addition to facility planning efforts, this grant program encourages state, local Governments, tribal governments need to make funds available.
III. Grants must support infrastructure of varying sizes
Not all organics recycling infrastructure needs to be centralized on an industrial scale. Some communities may be better served by locally-initiated, community-scale composting in places such as city gardens, schools, farmers markets, and other community food centers. Additionally, keeping food scrap collection and processing local and small can limit potential negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting scrap. Subsidies should be made available to small collectors and processors to purchase land, materials, labor, transportation, and other operational requirements.
The grant award should also take into account whether the management method (composting or anaerobic digestion) uses the material with respect to the highest and best ecological use. Not necessarily the best technology for treating organic waste streams. This depends on whether the raw material has been fractionated and how the final product (digestate) is processed. The choice of AD versus composting or other options is a question of whether nutrients are preserved or lost (e.g., if digestate from AD is buried in a landfill after energy extraction, nutrients are lost) and of organic material. You have to consider how to maximize your chances. Contributes to soil health when treated as a soil conditioner.
IV. Grant funds should also support waste prevention and outreach and educational materials
Education is essential for the success of the recycling business. Even the best-planned project can be underutilized if the community doesn’t know, and can fail if the community doesn’t know how to properly participate. For example, plastic contamination in food waste streams is a problem for disposers, often because residents and businesses put the wrong materials into their compost collection. Community education is essential to ensure proper participation of residents and proper management of materials.
Waste prevention should also be a priority in education and outreach. The greatest environmental, economic, and social benefits of food waste reduction relate to reducing or preventing food from becoming waste. This is reflected in EPA’s food waste management hierarchy, which emphasizes the need for source reduction above all other control strategies. Food waste prevention and recycling education and outreach materials can be drawn from many existing resources.For example, his 2020 report in Engineering and Medicine, National Academy of Sciences A national strategy to reduce food waste at the consumer level Make some recommendations related to EPA’s grant programs. This grant program is required to fund an education and outreach project, and if that is beyond the scope of this grant, all grant submissions must include an education and outreach plan, including prevention. must be included.
Finally, NRDC sees a great opportunity to address interrelated issues of climate and environmental justice by improving the management of food scraps in solid waste infrastructure programs for recycling. Through this important funding, EPA will better prevent food waste across the country, producing more food scraps instead of producing greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants when landfilled or incinerated. It can be made recyclable into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner. Improving our capacity to manage food waste appropriately is critical to achieving zero waste and climate goals, such as the national target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2050, and other environmental, Provides economic and social benefits.