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.firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
— Meghan Ibach