Magazine article University Business

Reducing Food Waste Feeds the Hungry, Saves Money

Magazine article University Business

Reducing Food Waste Feeds the Hungry, Saves Money

Article excerpt

Picture this: About 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. It's not just wasted food, but also wasted energy, water and land. And it equals $165 billion each year, the Natural Resources Defense Council says.

The uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills, where it's the largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste.

College students are responsible for about 22 million pounds of the waste, according to the Food Recovery Network (UBmag.me/frn), a student-operated movement to fight hunger in the U.S.

College compost

Many colleges make efforts to reduce waste by eliminating trays (forcing students to take only what they can carry) and composting food so it can be used as a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer. But even the best-laid plans can run into trouble when people don't follow the rules of recycling by keeping plastic and non-compostable items out of the trash. At Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, food waste ready for composting ended up in a landfill, as it contained too much plastic.

Like many other institutions, Ursinus Dining Services provided small plastic condiment containers of butter, cream cheese and fruit spreads. Small changes, such as removing these plastics, can really make a difference, says Kate Keppen, director of sustainability. "There's been a renewed commitment to recycling and food waste. Those rwo things have been really investigated not just by me and my office but also by the students."

The college recycles cardboard, plastics, glass and fryer oil that can be turned into biodiesel fuel. …

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