Letter: Slim down food waste at landfill

Graphic by Lori Deaton

After reading “Filling Up: Buncombe County Looks for Ways to Extend Life of Landfill” in the April 3 Mountain Xpress Sustainability issue, I was concerned that throughout the four-page article, food waste was hardly mentioned as a culprit to the filling of our landfill. The city of Asheville conducted a waste audit in 2013, finding 26% of trash we send to the Buncombe County landfill is compostable.

A common misconception people have is that food waste composts in the landfill, but due to its anaerobic environment, food almost mummifies, taking years, sometimes decades, to break down. All the while producing methane, which is 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. According to the USDA’s website, food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, helping make landfills the third largest source of methane in the U.S.

Finding another location for our next landfill is a daunting and scary thing to think about. The less we as individuals can send to the landfill, the better. Choosing reusable over single-use items; intentionally buying products with less packaging; wasting less food and feeding others, animals or composting instead of trashing; and being more mindful about what we are wasting can all reduce the amount we send to the landfill.

Restaurants can play a huge part in reducing landfill waste. Asheville and Black Mountain are lucky to have Food Connection, which recovers leftover, unused food that would otherwise be wasted and locally redistributes to people who need it. We also have Danny’s Dumpster, a commercial compost facility in East Asheville, and CompostNow, a privately owned household compost pickup company. It would be great if we could get private business to partner with the city or county to provide composting for all.

A group of concerned citizens formed Food Waste Reduction and Recovery WNC, which meets quarterly to learn what strategies are happening to mitigate food waste. We’re also in the works of planning a Regional Food Waste Summit happening in November. Anyone interested in joining the conversation can find us on Facebook or email Meghan.ibach@gmail.com to get involved.

— Meghan Ibach
Asheville

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2 thoughts on “Letter: Slim down food waste at landfill

  1. Mike R.

    Compost Now. How stupid an idea is to drive around and pickup people’s food waste to compost? Carbon emissions from all this driving almost assuredly negates the benefit of not sending the food scraps to the dump. But it “feels good”.

    Backyards composting sounds easy but it has to be done properly or you will have all sorts of critters invading the neighborhood (mice in particular). Unfortunately, most people are too dull or lazy to put in a little extra effort to do it correctly and safely. In that case, the best solution is the status quo which is to send it to the landfill, decomposing or not.

    We have alot bigger fish to fry with regards to climate change and environmental issues than this. Food scrap volume from households does not seem to be that great to me.

    How about not picking up leaves and requiring citizens to compost on their property or pay for removal. Even though picked up leaves are composted, how stupid is it to haul them away and then have people come and buy and haul back the compost?? Composting leaves takes very little space and energy and is even easier than bagging the darn things to put at the curb.

    • Lulz

      Who picks up leaves in the city? You must not live in Asheville.

      How much landfill space did demolishing the BB&T building use? Buncombe county bans cardboard from the landfill. Yet their own construction debris and dumpsters are full of it. All dumped off at the landfill.

      So if the county wont abide by its rules , what makes you assume some loon in government can change the climate? As a matter of fact, why so you assume the climate can never change? Has it always been the same?

      See if the local media was actually truthful, they’d look into it. But that’s not what their real goals are.

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