WASTE

WASTE

It is estimated that forty percent of all the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. If that 40 percent were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. If it were brought down to zero, as much as 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions could be eliminated.

The best way to prevent waste may be to stop surpluses from occurring in the first place, but that begins when you scrape less off your plate or from your refrigerator. We could reduce the deforestation involved in providing acreage for animals to graze and crops to grow to feed those animals. We could reduce the energy needed to heat, cool, water and care for them, not to mention the labor, the transport and the packaging.

Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year.

In addition, as we bring food waste to rot in landfills, it is producing substantial quantities of methane – a gas with 25 fold more potent global warming potential than CO2

This is another area in which we can make an impact. We can plan more carefully before we buy. 

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Biodegradable vs. Compostable: What’s the Difference?

02/09/21
The terms "biodegradable" and "compostable" are everywhere, but they're often used interchangeably, incorrectly, or misleadingly – adding a layer of uncertainty for anyone trying to shop sustainably.

BioCycle the organics recycling authority

03/28/20
Published since 1960, BioCycle is the go-to resource on composting, organics recycling, anaerobic digestion and renewable energy.

Climate change becomes widely recognized corporate factor for waste and recycling

03/28/20
While many of the largest companies have been releasing sustainability reports for years, 2019 marked a potential turning point in the level of detail and acknowledgment for this looming issue.

Why America’s recycling isn’t working and what you can do about it

02/10/20
Poor recycling habits cost US municipalities $3.2 Billion annually. What are the common challenges local governments are facing?

National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling

01/30/20
EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs…

Managing and Transforming Waste Streams – A Tool for Communities

01/30/20
In 2002, San Francisco set a goal of 75% diversion by 2010 and in 2003 Zero Waste by 2020. The city's comprehensive Environment Code, created in 2003, is based on the Precautionary Principle.

Basic Information about Landfill Gas

11/26/19
Landfill gas (LFG) is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. LFG is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and…

In Sweden, Trash Heats Homes, Powers Buses and Fuels Taxi Fleets

09/21/18
In a cavernous room filled with garbage, a giant mechanical claw reaches down and grabs five tons of trash. As a technician in a control room maneuvers the spiderlike crane, the claw drops its moldering…

Sustainable Piermont

11/26/19
Sustainable Piermont is a community initiative to protect our environment and prepare for the upcoming effects of Climate Change.  Piermont stands out locally and regionally on both fronts and is ready to do more.

C40 Cities

11/26/19
Cities are where the future happens first. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group connects more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing over 650 million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created…

US Climate Alliance

11/26/19
In response to the U.S. federal government’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, Governors Andrew Cuomo, Jay Inslee, and Jerry Brown launched the United States Climate Alliance – a bipartisan coalition…

Resilient Communities For America

11/26/19
Resilient Communities for America (RC4A) champions the leadership of hundreds of local elected officials who are committed to creating more prepared communities that can bounce back from extreme weather, energy, and economic challenges. A strong…
RMI

How Cities Can Improve Homes

10/22/19
While reducing energy use in residential buildings plays a key role in meeting these goals, historically, this has been a hard sector to tackle. Residential buildings are decentralized, which makes it difficult to implement programs…

Zero Net Energy Buildings with Zero Net Added Cost

10/22/19
Would you consider making your next home or building project a zero energy project? If the net added cost to you was also zero, would you be more interested? Most people would. It’s possible to…

American Cities Climate Challenge

07/01/19
The American Cities Climate Challenge is an unprecedented opportunity for 25 ambitious cities to significantly deepen and accelerate their efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents. As Climate Challenge winners,…

Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate Change

05/28/19
Co-chaired by Maros Sefcovic and Michael Bloomberg, The Global Covenant of Mayors serves cities and local governments by mobilizing and supporting ambitious, measurable, planned climate and energy action in their communities by working with city/regional…

100% Commitments in Cities, Counties, & States

04/05/19
Across the U.S. over 90 cities, more than ten counties and two states, have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals. Six cities in the U.S.--Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock port, and Kodiak Island--have already…

Stop Waste

08/30/19
StopWaste helps Alameda County’s businesses, residents, and schools waste less, recycle properly, and use water, energy, and other resources efficiently.

Food Recovery Network

08/30/19
Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in America.

Climate Collaborative – Packaging

08/30/19
On average, packaging accounts for about 5% of the energy used in the life cycle of a food product making it a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and for some products, the packaging used…

Food Print – The Problem of Food Waste

08/30/19
Almost half of our food is wasted in the United States. How does this happen? What can we do to solve our enormous food waste problem?

EPA – Food Waste Programs Across the United States

08/30/19
Food loss and waste is a growing problem in our modern society. The amount of food Americans throw away each year is staggering. In 2014 alone, more than 38 million tons of food waste was…

WWF – Take the Food Waste Quiz

08/30/19
Test your knowledge and learn tips.

Food Tank – 59 Organizations Fighting Food Loss and Waste

06/24/19
It’s no secret that food loss and food waste are big problems. At least 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year—in fields, during transport, in storage, at restaurants, and in markets…

MORE NEWS

EDF

EPA Unveils Plan to Reduce Dangerous Pollution from Landfills

05/17/21  
The Environmental Protection Agency today announced a plan to implement final standards that will protect millions of Americans from the toxic and climate-damaging pollution emitted by municipal landfills.

EPA Will Ramp Up Environmental Enforcement, Focus on EJ Communities

05/06/21  
EPA’s acting chief of enforcement sent a memo to staff last week (that The Hill obtained) calling for them to “[s]trengthen enforcement in overburdened communities by resolving environmental noncompliance through remedies with tangible benefits for…

Senate Restores Obama Era Methane Regulations Using Congressional Review Act

By Amy Lupica   04/29/21  
Using a rare procedure that allows Congress to reverse rules made late in a President’s term, the Senate has approved a bill restoring methane rules that were previously rolled back by President Trump. The old…

New York City Is Reviving Curbside Composting. Critics Say It’s A Step Back

By Danny Lewis   04/23/21  
To celebrate Earth Day this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new lawsuit against several major oil and gas companies, while his new Department of Education Chancellor, Meisha Ross Porter, showed off the first…

Meet the Jewish Activist Digging Through the Trash for Climate Justice

By Orge Castellano   04/22/21  
A few years ago, Anna Sacks was an utterly different person. Her existence revolved around the monotonous slender buildings, high-rise cubicles, and exceedingly demanding domains of Manhattan’s corporate world. Soon, the young New Yorker’s workday…

The Lasso Robot Wants to Make Recycling at Home Easier

By John Biggs   01/12/21  
Recycling is important but it’s also a pain. Separating glass from plastic from paper isn’t a terrible task but what wouldn’t it be nicer if a robot did it instead? That’s why one inventor built…

7 Ways to Dispose of an Old Christmas Tree

By Katherine Martinko   12/28/20  
If you purchased a real Christmas tree this holiday season, then you'll have to figure out what to do with it eventually. Your town may have curbside pickup, but if not, you'll have to get…

Is a world without trash possible?

By Robert kunzig   02/18/20  
The vision of a “circular economy”—where we use resources sparingly and recycle endlessly—is inspiring businesses and environmentalists alike.

Why we dedicated our cover story to ‘the end of trash’

By Susan Goldberg   02/18/20  
We feel bad when we throw out things that shouldn’t have become trash (like uneaten, past-its-prime produce) or expend resources needlessly (like leaving lights on when we’re away). This guilty feeling is deeply ingrained; the…

Can the Super Bowl go zero waste?

By Sarah Gibbens   01/29/20  
This Sunday, Miami's Hard Rock Stadium will try to eliminate its need for a landfill.

Turning cow waste into clean power on a national scale

By Eileen Abbott   01/28/20  
A new partnership will convert waste from dairy cows into usable natural gas.

E.P.A. Is Letting Cities Dump More Raw Sewage Into Rivers for Years to Come

By Christopher Flavelle   01/24/20  
The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their sewer systems, according to interviews with…

Industry’s 3 largest landfill operators among California’s biggest methane emitters: report

By E.A. Crunden   01/23/20  
NASA data shows Republic Services, Waste Connections and Waste Management among the state's "super-emitters."
vpr

Vermonters Want To Keep Food Waste Out Of Landfills. They Just Don’t Want To Pay For it

By John Dillon   01/22/20  
Many Vermonters support a pending ban on food waste from landfills. But a new University of Vermont study found few people want to pay for curbside pick-up of their food scraps.

Covanta will set ‘science-based’ emissions reduction target by 2022 as part of climate focus

By E.A. Crunden   12/23/19  
Covanta's new sustainability report argues incineration can play a key role in diverting waste from landfills, a major source of methane, and previews a growing focus on climate concerns.

Is Tinsel Canceled?

By Penelope Green   12/20/19  
As the world scrambles to combat deforestation, experts warn our efforts could have far fewer benefits than we think.

Brighton Kaoma: Empowering Communities for Climate Action Since Age 14

By Brighton Mukupa Kaoma   11/20/19  
As a teenage radio journalist in Zambia, Kaoma helped communities voice their environmental concerns. Now he’s a graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy. ...

Climate change could double greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater lakes

By University of Cambridge   11/18/19  
Every drop of fresh water contains thousands of different organic molecules that have previously gone unnoticed. By measuring the diversity of these molecules and how they interact with the environment around them, research has revealed…

How indigenous peoples can help the world meet its climate goals

By Julia Rosen   11/05/19  
The first time Mandy Gull visited Canada’s Broadback Forest, she was struck by the displays of delicate lichen. By the dense, ancient trees. By the moss-covered floor, which rose and fell like a rumpled green…

Cities, states and companies vow to meet U.S. climate goals without Trump. Can they?

By Julia Rosen   11/04/19  
Despite President Trump‘s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the United States hasn’t completely abandoned the landmark international agreement.

Q&A With Sustainable Cities Expert Jitendra Bajpai

10/28/19  
The engineer and urban transport planner teaches a course on sustainable cities for the M.S. in Sustainability Management program...

Bali fights for its beautiful beaches by rethinking waste, plastic trash

By Amanda Tazkia Siddharta   10/15/19  
From single-use plastic bans to education, Bali is digging deep to preserve its pristine reputation and save its tourism industry....

What desert cities can teach us about water

By Rudri Patel   10/09/19  
A rise in temperatures coupled with population growth calls into question the long-term sustainability of desert cities...

The Gulf of Maine is warming, and its whales are disappearing

By Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Peter Breslow and Avery Ellfeldt   10/06/19  
Waters off the coast of Maine are warming faster than 99 percent of the world's oceans. That's forcing whales northward in pursuit of prey, threatening some of their already dwindling populations....

Ocean Cleanup Project Finally Collects Plastic From Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Michel Martin   10/05/19  
That giant pile of plastic trash in the ocean just got a little smaller. Dutch inventor Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup project recently collected its first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Department of Energy awards $73M for biofuel and waste projects

By Cody Ellis   10/03/19  
The Department of Energy recently selected 35 projects to receive $73 million worth of bioenergy research and development funding. This includes multiple projects relevant to the waste and recycling industry.

Closing the Loop on Urban Food Waste

10/03/19  
Riyana Razalee, a current student in the MS in Sustainability Management program, is building from the ground up a career in agriculture and food systems. ...

A Sustainability Indicator to Compare the Bike Friendliness of U.S. Cities

10/02/19  
An index created by a student would measure how well cities are encouraging bicycling through infrastructure, safety, and clean air...

How cities reshape the evolutionary path of urban wildlife

By Brendan I. Koerner   09/24/19  
If researchers can figure out how pigeons and rats evolve to thrive in hostile city habitats, it could help other beasts--including us--adapt to climate change....

Indigenous people are already working “green jobs”

By Nick Estes   09/24/19  
From Standing Rock to the Unist’ot’en Camp, land defense and water protection are necessary for the continuation of life on a planet teetering on collapse....

The Fight For Environmental Justice In America’s Segregated Cities

By Peter Dykstra   09/07/19  
Abolitionist climate justice is an evolving movement that aims to tackle the disparate effects of climate change across race and class...

I helped expose the lead crisis in Flint. Here’s what other cities should do.

By Mona Hanna-Attisha   08/28/19  
The fight against lead in water is a fight for our kids....

The toxic waste threat that climate change is making worse

By Zack Colman   08/26/19  
More than 100 ponds and landfills containing coal ash lie in areas FEMA has designated as high-risk flood zones, according to a POLITICO analysis.

The Hidden Costs of Food Waste

08/23/19  
Nearly 40 percent of all food goes uneaten in the U.S. Environmental policy alumni examine the impacts of food waste and how we can make a difference. ...

Environmentalists removed more than 40 tons of trash from the Pacific — and it barely made a dent

07/01/19  
Ocean Voyages Institute cleaned up the floating debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but it probably barely made a dent. It's estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each…

Can smartphone apps help solve the world’s food waste problem?

By Tiffany R. Jansen   06/27/19  
Some 40 percent of America’s food goes uneaten, costing the nation some US$218 billion annually. Food waste is a major contributor to deforestation and water waste, and comes a close second to road transportation in…

De Blasio’s Zero Waste Plan Languishes With Composting Expansion On Hold, Critics Say

By Gwynne Hogan   06/25/19  
At an Earth Day press conference four years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged New York City would send zero waste to landfills by 2030, in part by scaling up an aggressive composting program to…

Part of the Pacific Ocean Is Not Warming as Expected. Why?

06/24/19  
Climate models predict that as a result of human-induced climate change, the surface of the Pacific Ocean should be warming. But one key part is not. ...

From Toilet to Tap: What Cities Need to Overcome to Make That Happen

By Sasha Harris-Lovett and David Sedlak   05/17/19  
In recent years, the idea of creating a circular economy—in which all of the resources coming into our cities are recycled after they are used—has taken hold. We now routinely recycle paper, glass and food…

Fighting Food Waste by Finding Ways to Use the Useless

05/07/19  
Even though some food is never eaten, the carbon emissions to grow it still end up in the atmosphere. Reducing waste is crucial to fighting climate change. ...

50 Million Gallons of Toxic Water Flows Into Lakes and Streams Every Day in the US

By Elias Marat   02/22/19  
A new Associated Press report has blown the lid off the mining industry’s toxic effect on drinking water sources across the United States.

Waste Management CEO talks climate change, ocean plastic and ‘zero waste’

By Cole Rosengren   02/06/19  
As the Waste Management Sustainability Forum in Phoenix, Arizona grows in size each year, so do its ambitions. Last year, CEO Jim Fish invoked space exploration with plans for a new "moonshot" goal to reduce the…

If You Throw a Compostable Cup in the Trash, Does It Still Break Down?

By Ashley P. Taylor   09/17/18  
Compostable products are all the rage these days. But what happens to these items — including compostable straws and silverware — when they're thrown into a landfill instead of a compost heap?

Bio-based plastics can reduce waste, but only if we invest in both making and getting rid of them

By Danny Ducat   08/16/18  
Bio-based plastics are a promising option for reducing plastic waste, but scaling them up will require substantial investments, both in making them and in special facilities for disposing of them.

Climate change is making Lake Tahoe warmer, adding stress to the ecosystem

By Daniel Rothberg   07/30/18  
In an annual report released this week, U.C. Davis researchers found that climate change is adding new pressure to the Lake Tahoe ecosystem. The “State of the Lake Report” found that surface temperatures in July…

Massachusetts raises 2050 waste reduction target, may expand organics ban

By Cole Rosengren   10/01/19  
A new draft solid waste master plan from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) calls for a 30% reduction in annual disposal by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050. An estimated 5.7 million…

Florida legislature advances third attempt at curbside recycling contamination bill

By Katie Pyzyk   01/30/20  
Last week, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill (HB 73) listing contamination-related details that must be included in recycling contracts between municipalities and haulers or MRFs. Haulers would not be required to transport contaminated materials…

More than 70 nations pledge to reduce food waste

By Cain Burdeau   11/09/19  
ROME (AP) — More than 70 countries have pledged to do more to cut down on the amount of food lost due to poor refrigeration.

Stalks, pests and beer gone bad: Tricks of the trade from a no-waste dinner

By Alice Neville   08/21/19  
Inspired by the ethos of food-rescue organisation Kaibosh, chef Kelda Hains looked to the past to champion unloved ingredients and showcase clever waste-minimising techniques at her All Taste, No Waste dinner during Visa Wellington On…

What Is Spoiled Milk Good For, and Can You Drink It?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD   08/21/19  
Contrary to popular belief, spoiled milk may have a place in your next culinary pursuit. Not to mention, using spoiled milk in recipes is a great way to reduce food waste.