University Business February 2018 - 14

Beyond the News
CAMPUS DINING

Reducing food waste feeds the hungry, saves money
Picture this: About 40 percent of food
in the United States today goes uneaten.
It's not just wasted food, but also wasted
energy, water and land. And it equals $165
billion each year, the Natural Resources
Defense Council says.
The uneaten food ends up rotting in
landfills, where it's the largest component
of U.S. municipal solid waste.
College students are responsible for
about 22 million pounds of the waste,
according to the Food Recovery Network
(UBmag.me/frn), a student-operated
movement to fight hunger in the U.S.
College compost
Many colleges make efforts to reduce
waste by eliminating trays (forcing students to take only what they can carry)
and composting food so it can be used as
a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer. But even
the best-laid plans can run into trouble
when people don't follow the rules of
recycling by keeping plastic and non-compostable items out of the trash. At Ursinus
College in Pennsylvania, food waste ready
for composting ended up in a landfill, as it
contained too much plastic.
Like many other institutions, Ursinus
Dining Services provided small plastic
condiment containers of butter, cream
cheese and fruit spreads. Small changes,
such as removing these plastics, can really
make a difference, says Kate Keppen,
director of sustainability. "There's been a
renewed commitment to recycling and
food waste. Those two things have been
really investigated not just by me and my
office but also by the students."
The college recycles cardboard, plastics,
glass and fryer oil that can be turned
into biodiesel fuel. Students also package
leftover lunches and dinners from the
Wismer kitchen and, driving the Wismer
on Wheels truck, deliver meals twice-perweek to a local food shelter.
14 | February 2018

Meeting the challenge
For the last three years, Ursinus has
participated in the Environmental Protection Agency's "Food Recovery Challenge"
(UBmag.me/frc)-earning Sustainability
Honors this year by achieving the highest
percent increase in food waste diversion
over the previous year. More than 800
governments, organizations and businesses
participated in the program.
The Food Recovery Challenge suggests
diverting food waste from landfills by:

* donating nutritious, leftover food to feed
hungry people in the community
* saving money by purchasing less and
lowering waste disposal fees
* establishing donation programs and getting potential tax benefits
* gaining visibility by having your name
listed on the EPA's website
* getting free technical assistance in the
form of webinars and an online database
to help plan, implement and track
activities -Tim Goral

Food Recovery Hierarchy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes
actions colleges and universities can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each
tier focuses on different management strategies. The top levels are the best ways
to prevent waste because they create the most benefits for the environment,
society and the economy.
Source reduction
Reduce the volume of surplus food generated
Feed hungry people
Donate extra food to food banks,
soup kitchens and shelters
Feed animals
Divert food scraps to animal feed
Use for industry
Provide waste oils for rendering
and fuel conversion, and food
scraps for digestion to
recover energy
Composting
Create a
nutrient-rich soil
amendment

Source: EPA; UBmag.me/feed

Landfill/incineration
Last resort to disposal

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