A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Note: In last week’s column, we mentioned the article referenced from Resource Recycling on what the state of Vermont is doing to reduce food waste was too long to include a good synopsis of it and to contact me if you were interested in the rest of the article and I’d email it to you.

Based on the recommendation of a reader, they thought a second follow-up article on it might be better for those of you interested. This is that follow-up.

But before I get started on that, I want to relate a personal experience that surprised me as far as food waste goes. I was at what I consider an up-scale restaurant and had a very delicious meal. Being that I am a light eater and their servings were very generous portions, I could only eat less than half of it. Thus I asked for a to-go box for the rest, only to be advised they did not provide to-go boxes. No wonder there is food waste.

Now to continue what Vermont is doing, hoping other states/communities will also pick up on some of these ideas/efforts.

To us, the way Vermont’s law was mandated to reduce food waste was interesting as every year starting on July 1, 2014, smaller and smaller restaurants/food waste producers were required to get involved.

For example, in 2014, only those who produced more than two tons per week of food waste were required to follow the new law. In 2015, those producing more than a ton of food waste per week, in 2016, it was reduced to half a ton per week. And in 2017, those producing less than half a ton – which I guess included everyone else.

The law not only put restrictions on the amount of food waste allowed, but provided training – often on-site – and technical assistance. It offered free waste assessments and provided “free business promotion through press releases and social media. Participating businesses could also become official partners in the U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge.”

Some of the methods used to reduce food waste were:

  1. using close-to-expiration (but still edible) meats and produce in sandwiches and other deli items.
  2. donating items close to their expiration dates, including leftover bread and baked items, to local food pantries. (Since the Vermont law went into effect, stats show in 2015, food donations were up 27 percent and increased another 40 percent between 2015 and 2016.)
  3. The local agriculture sector also became more involved. Many businesses gave suitable food scraps and old bread/pastries to farmers to use as animal feed. (I know our local University’s food service also does this.)
  4. Some establishments set up an on-site composting system to help reduce food waste. In addition, “Vermont is fortunate to have 10 compost operations and one anaerobic digester permitted to accept food scraps and a growing number of businesses that collect food scraps.

But all these efforts are not without their challenges. Next week we will go into some of those.

In our monthly report on what local citizens recycled at the Green Guy Recycling Services drop-off site, here are the amounts for September:

  • Metals: 2,333,483 lbs
  • Cardboardz; 261,460 lbs
  • Paper: 43,780 lbs
  • Glass: 27,072 lbs
  • Plastic: 8,610 lbs
  • Monitors: 3,120 lbs
  • Electronics: 1,350 lbs
  • Used Oil: 935 Gallons
  • Used oil filters: 400 units
  • Used Tires: 1,046

Again we can be proud of amounts. A big thank you to all of you who recycle and are good stewards of all the blessings we have been given.

Till next week, do have a pleasant and productive 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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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666