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EPA Welcomes Bates College, UNH and Keene State College into the Food Recovery Challenge

Release Date: 06/14/2012
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass.--June 12, 2012) Several New Hampshire organizations and one in Maine who are trying to take some of the food waste out of our region’s landfills were recognized at the Northeast Resource Recovery Association’s two-day conference on recycling last week in Manchester, New Hampshire.

During the 31st Annual Northeast Recycling Conference, EPA focused on these New Hampshire restaurants, schools and organizations as well as one college in Maine college that are taking the first early plunges into the arena of massive composting of food scraps.

Keene State College, University of New Hampshire at Durham and Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, were all recognized for joining EPA’s one-year-old Food Recovery Challenge and doing what they can to minimize their food waste.

EcoMovement, the NH Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant AssociationNortheast Resource Recovery Association's School Recycling Club and the NH Hospital Association were also recognized for supporting efforts to increase food recovery.

The conference billed itself as”the one conference to go to for all things recycling.” But EPA New England chose this event to focus on the issue of food waste and those who are making a difference in northern New England.

About 50 people attended EPA’s workshop and learned that EPA New England now has 26 partners in its Food Recovery Challenge. Food waste generated by local institutions, colleges, universities, hospitals and restaurants is often not waste at all but actually safe, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans, according to both the US Department of Agriculture and EPA.

Food that is thrown away can be given away as food donations, or composted. In 2010, more than 14 percent of households in the United States did not have regular access to enough food for an active, healthy life. And if the food is not viable for donation, food scraps are a composting resource that not only creates a valuable soil product but keeps food waste from going into landfills.

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge encourages organizations to reduce, donate and recycle as much of their food waste as possible. This saves money, feeds the needy, and helps protect the environment – a triple bottom line.

After paper, food comprises the greatest volume of waste going into our nation’s landfills. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated with only 3 percent being diverted to composting. When excess food, leftover food and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

New Hampshire now has four permitted composting facilities that can recover food waste. EcoMovement introduced food waste hauling in the Portsmouth area and is looking to expand into other New Hampshire locations. The state’s Department of Environmental Services is also working with restaurants statewide to promote food recovery in New Hampshire.

 Keene State College is striving to increase its 36 percent diversion rate to 50 percent by 2020 by resuming their composting of post-plate waste and by continuing to work with local haulers and residents to improve access to food waste composting.  

And The UNH Compost Program, which began in 1998, has diverted and composted more than a half million pounds of food waste since it began in 1998. About 25,000 to 40,000 pounds of food waste are diverted from the UNH dining halls every month through the composting program. All UNH dining halls have installed food pulpers to pulverize food waste into small bits and extract liquid, a process that helps the composting process. Since 2006, university hospitality staff has been managing the food waste collection and drop off at UNH’s  Kingman Farm.

Bates College of Lewiston, Maine, is EPA’s newest member to the Food Recovery Challenge and joined the workshop panel.  The school has a long history of composting food waste as well as creative purchasing and food preparation to minimize waste and maximize food resources. Bates dining halls track 42 “waste” categories and ends up diverting 80 percent of its food waste from the solid waste stream.

The Meat House, Courtyard by Marriott & Grappone Conference Center, and Kheops International Inc. are also active partners in New Hampshire.

For information about the EPA WasteWise program, the Re-TRAC tool for tracking an organization's waste generation and reduction activities, and how to join as a WasteWise Partner (http://www.epa.gov/wastewise)

EPA Food Recovery Challenge

(http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge

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