The Yuck Factor and the First 100 Yards of Food Waste Collection

ORBIS Food Collector Takes Aim at Food Waste Separation and Recycling Challenge

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ORBIS Kitchen Collector is wide enough to successfully scrape off a plate without missing the mark.

The First Hundred Yards of Food Waste Recycling

In some ways, the diversion of food waste is the reverse of what we think about when we look at the consumer goods supply chain. We often talk about the importance of those “last 100 yards” of retail distribution. The last hundred can be a supply chain game changer in terms of cost minimization, quality control, and ultimately in boosting sales. 

For example, how quickly can the truck get into the loading bay and unload?

Does perishable product get promptly put into an appropriate environment or does it slowly degrade while languishing in a warm back room? Does stock get put out immediately into a customer ready floor display where customers can respond with impulse sales, or is it piled off a pallet into backroom storage, and then tediously piled later onto a cart to be opened and stocked on conventional shelves?

I know this is a painfully long and peripheral analogy, but if we spun that supply chain 180 degrees, the point of emphasis for food waste is really at the beginning. This is what I refer to as the first hundred yards. The challenge is at the front end - getting public support of the program and shaping recycling behavior.

People are often reticent to handling food waste. Sure they already have to scrape it into the trash, but the benefit of the trash can is that it is often a large opening and easier to scrape off the plate and hit the target than a smaller receptacle.

Additionally, food preparation scraps need to be separated from non-organics and may pose additional unpleasant handling.

The Three Approaches to Organics Collection

Municipal organics collection typically takes one of three approaches, including co-mingling of food and yard waste, source separated organics (SSO), and anaerobic digestion.

Due to the volume of yard waste involved, the commingled approach is increasingly associated with larger bins and automated tipping systems. This is more popular on the West Coast and other areas that enjoy more year-round yard waste generation. SSO is more popular in other areas. Control of the material for composting, the recipe, allows for the fastest turnaround time for compost.

In terms of collection for food waste, Sebranek this is typically done on a weekly basis, with solid waste picked up less frequently, due to the diversion of organics from the trash. John notes that where cities still have weekly garbage pickup, food waste recycling can be less successful. For kitchen waste only programs, a 12-gallon curbside container is the most popular, and has more than enough capacity for single family food scrap generation.

The Importance of Organics Collection

The importance of organics recycling is in reducing strain on landfills and preventing methane gas emission. Municipalities, he says,are looking at opportunities to divert as much waste as possible in order to keep landfills open. For example, Toronto faced 300 percent cost increases in order to ship excess solid waste to Michigan.

Organics recycling also addresses the issue of methane gas release into the atmosphere.

The main challenge, according to some experts is the “yuck” factor of food waste handling, returning attention back to those first hundred yards. Some cities allow compostable bags inside the kitchen waste receptacle, which keeps it cleaner and more pleasant. Other important considerations for communities looking at food scrap recycling include local site selection for composting and the selection of a recycling partner.

Eliminating the Yuck Factor

A key component of that public acceptance, of course, is having the best receptacle available in terms of not making a mess, as well as for ease of cleaning. One example of a product designed for ease of use is the  NPL 390 Kitchen Collector2 from ORBIS. It is designed to minimize the mess issue, being wide enough to scrape a dinner plate without worry of debris spilling, and with a solid lid to keep in odor.

Outer and inner rim seals keep odor inside, and in the event of tipping it is more likely to contain the leak. Other improvements include an updated handle design with sleeker lines. Additionally, it is designed with hooks to keep a compostable bag liner from slipping if one is used by the householder. Be sure to check if your city allows the use of compostable liners in conjunction with its food scrap recycling program.