According to estimates from Portland Metro, approximately 19% of waste in area landfills is food waste from homes and businesses. From an environmental perspective, this represents wasted water and energy used to produce the food. Additionally, landfills are a source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
The City of Portland has put together a helpful resource for businesses (which can be utilized by individuals too), outlining the “Food Recovery Hierarchy” created by the EPA (see image below) and providing information on each step of the pyramid: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/sustainabilityatwork/article/536026.
Portland Metro recently contracted with Waste Management to begin negotiations for a new plant to process food waste. Food waste, made into a “bio-slurry” will be used to boost decomposition of municipal waste and eventually be transformed into biogas, which can be used for energy or diesel fuel. More information about this can be found here (warning: probably not the best photo to look at if you are actually eating all of your lunch).
But before food waste gets to the landfill, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent food waste at the source, which will save money and have positive environmental impacts.
I recently found the following website: https://www.savethefood.com/, which contains tips for eliminating waste before it happens (meal planning, advice about expiration dates), recipes for food scraps, leftovers, or food past its prime (but still safe to eat), and storage tips. There are many other sources of information online, and since some of these are new to me, hopefully they will be new to others too (e.g., I finally know what to do with a slightly brown pear besides making a face at it and throwing in the compost bin!).
Sad pears? Make a crumble. Source: savethefood.com