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Food Scraps Diversion

In all, based on results of a survey conducted in 2016/17, USCC’s official magazine and partner, BioCycle, identified 869 compost facilities processing food scraps along with yard trim or some other material.; a 2017 survey identified 148 communities running curbside collection programs with food scrap and 67 collecting at drop-off locations.

Description: oranges-in-compost

USCC’s Position on the Food Recovery Hierarchy

The US Composting Council supports the Food Recovery Hierarchy developed by the US EPA, which directs that society should first reduce surplus food by source reduction (better management of food to diminish leftovers); then food scrap should be directed to use by people, then by animals, next for industrial purposes, such as rendering and energy recovery, then for compost.

For this reason the USCC partners with allied organizations for collaborative solutions to food recovery challenges.

We also endorse the Food Waste Reduction Hierarchy developed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Institute of Local Self Reliance Food Waste Hierarchy

 

Description: food-recovery-hierarchy50% by 2030

The US Composting Council was a cosigner on a recent letter sent by a group of influential organizations urging the federal government to turn more attention towards food recovery. The US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Agriculture announced shortly after its new goal: 50% recovery by 2030.


Compostable Products Issues

Compostable (adj): capable of undergoing aerobic biological decomposition in a compost system, such that the material becomes visually indistinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass.

Compostable Product (n): Any product specifically manufactured to break down in a compost system at the end of its useful life. May be made from plastic, paper, or plant fibers, along with other ingredients that provide necessary form and functionality. The USCC supports the use of compostable products to the extent that they assist in the efficient collection of food and other organics that can be composted, and, by replacing conventional plastics, reduce physical contamination in finished compost products.

Compostable products include items such as bags, take-out containers, coffee pods, food packaging, cups, plates and serviceware.

All compostable products should be certified as conforming to ASTM or other international standards in order to prevent greenwashing, and to ensure that the products do not create problems for composters or the environment. Meeting the ASTM standards (D6400 or D6868) requires individual ingredients to be tested for biodegradability (consumed by microorganism), and the finished product to disintegrate (physically break down during composting), as well as be tested for plant toxicity and heavy metals. Certification in the U.S. is provided by BPI, The Biodegradable Products Institute.

LABELING IS KEY

To help prevent greenwashing and help compostable product providers clearly identify their products, the USCC, under the guidance of a Compostable Products Task Force, has produced several key resources.

FIELD TESTING IS AN OPTION

Composters may want to field test already-certified products, to be sure the product will disintegrate in their specific system. To help make these tests more consistent, and collect data on how varying conditions impact disintegration, the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF) launched an open-source field testing protocol. With the success of the Cedar Grove Compost testing program, the Compost Manufacturing Alliance is also working on field testing and approvals using varying composting technology.

For a basic introduction to Compostable Plastics, see this: Compostable Plastics 101