A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Last week, we continued with the information on what some places in the state of Virginia are doing to reduce food waste. This was in hopes it might help you and others also pick up on some of these ideas.

However, as mentioned at the end, the actions they used were not without challenges. Today we will cover some of those.

First off, they reported “conducting business outreach isn’t easy. Business representatives are busy people and connecting with the appropriate staff can be difficult, even with the mandates of Vermont’s law in place and the technical assistance being offered free of charge.”

Then too, there is “the tricky reality of tracking progress in a realm where every actor uses a variety of different diversion options.”

It was noted while many of their businesses did a great job of tracking food waste and diversion tonnages, many did not. Additionally, in the area of composting, most haulers are not required to report tonnages of food scraps or the number of customers participating in composting,

Even the practice of using food scraps in agriculture, an age-old practice, is not without problems: “Trying to create ‘collector’ lists of farmers who accept food scraps for animal feed has proven very difficult.”

Another challenge is “compliance with Vermont Department of Health regulations relating to food separation and on-site storage for diversion is a significant concern for business owners/managers, as is food scrap odor.” To combat the odor problem, some haulers in Vermont provide sawdust to their customers for covering food scraps.

And for many, “finding sufficient space for on-site storage – both in the kitchen and in waste container areas outside – can be another struggle for food scrap generators, especially in older downtown areas where alleyways are frequently overcrowded.” However, here the “sharing of food scrap diversion bins by two or more businesses has proven successful.”

We find that some haulers have streamlined the process and are helping end users. An incentive here is, “under Vermont’s law, haulers are mandated to offer food scrap collection to commercial establishments within 20 miles of a processing facility.” Thus, “In communities where compost or anaerobic digestion processing is available, getting haulers on board has been fairly successful.”

In closing these several articles on what one state is doing, we realize their, “funding from the state’s Agency of Natural Resources was essential for the districts to successfully advance business outreach activities.”

And “as these projects have demonstrated, the value of creating partnerships and developing relationships between stakeholders and interested parties cannot be underestimated.”

Note: Received a pleasing email from one of the readers who suggested several things that might also be addressed in these columns. Expect to see some of her ideas in future columns. Thanks Karen.

Till next week, do have a great one.....

Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu

San Marcos Daily Record

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