By Eric Lombardo
Delta Institute Communications Intern
Restaurants, grocery stores, and other consumer-facing businesses in the United States send 25 million tons of food waste to landfills annually according to ReFED, a food data group. This represents almost half of all food waste in the country and over $50 billion in lost economic value.
Fortunately, compared to residential home waste, foodservice businesses are geographically consolidated and more easily regulated. These factors put the foodservice industry in a strong position for innovative solutions to reduce food waste. Delta Institute’s Scraps to Soil food scrap pilot program in Lansing, Michigan is one such solution.
Through a partnership with Hammond Farms, Live Green Lansing, and Lansing Capital Area Recycling and Trash (CART), Delta Institute is testing a commercial-scale strategy to divert and compost food scraps from businesses in the capital region of Michigan.
The Scraps to Soil program aims to subscribe all forms of food waste generators, such as restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, and community institutions. There is no cost for businesses registered for the program. Hammond Farms picks up food scraps at regular intervals to return to its composting center where it is mixed with landscape debris and yard waste to create closed loop compost. Additionally, the Scraps to Soil team provides training for foodservice staff on what materials can and cannot go in food scrap bins.
One organization participating in the Scraps to Soil pilot program is Biggby Coffee. Based in Lansing, Biggby has over 250 locations in the United States, and one pilot store and the company headquarters are now enlisted in the program. As a coffee shop, Biggby uses large amounts of coffee grounds, and when spent those grounds (and other food waste) can be added to the scraps bin to be used in the composting process. By subscribing to the Scraps to Soil Pilot Program, Biggby is making a commitment to reduce its waste and impact on the environment.
Since the pilot began in October 2016, Scraps to Soil has amassed over 45 tons of food scraps from 20 businesses, and the team has trained over 100 staff of enrolled businesses in managing food scraps.
The Scraps to Soil Pilot Program aims to run through early 2018 and will continue to enlist new businesses and increase capacity as the program develops. Delta Institute believes that this program can serve as a roadmap for how to divert commercial food waste in any city. With landfills growing, food insecurity continuing to affect Americans, and agriculture straining our resources, solutions improving our food cycle like Scraps to Soil are more important than ever.
Want to get involved?
- Lansing-area resident? Be a part of the Scraps to Soil project yourself and take a moment to fill out our survey!
- Lansing-area business? Want to sign up for free to take part in Scraps to Soil? Contact Martin Brown at email@example.com with your interest.
- For any program-related questions or comments, email Martin Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Interested in learning more about food waste and its negative impacts? Read the statistics at refed.com.
*This program is funded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as a Pollution Prevention (P2) grant program. These grants focus on sustainable pollutant reduction practices implemented as public-private partnerships. Diverting food waste prevents pollution by mitigating landfill methane pollution and reducing our agricultural need for cropland, fertilizer, and water.