Are you making the best choice with your family’s food waste? Food scraps we grind up in the garbage disposal, an appliance generally prohibited in Europe, travel through 300 miles of aging sewer pipes to a water reclamation district plant. There, the food waste may or may not pass through huge entry filters. If it makes it, it continues flowing with the rest of the organic solids in our wastewater for further treatment. In the process, byproduct biogas—60% methane, and carbon dioxide—is emitted. The organic solids that don’t pass through the filters, become a gritty sludge that is trucked to—yes, the Three Mile Canyon Landfill. There it decomposes anaerobically along with the food waste we throw in the trashcan creating—yes, methane gas. The Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District plants and Summit County’s landfill are relatively very small and neither has a methane cap system. In 2020, SBWRD captured and trucked 300 tons of sludge to the landfill. Last year we dumped 1400 tons of food waste there—30% of the landfill’s total solid waste.
Our best choice? To divert food waste from the landfill and reduce methane pollution, we must compost it and turn it naturally into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. We have four composting choices: backyard composting (bins available to purchase at Recycle Utah), electric indoor composting, worm composting, and membership in Spoil to Soil’s curbside composting service. Spoil to Soil’s rapidly growing 44-acre off-grid farm in Brown’s Canyon accepts ALL food waste! In addition to plant-based food, houseplants, and yard waste, they now accept meat, bone, grains, dairy, grease, soiled paper towels, uncoated paper products, and cardboard! Contact them at www.spoiltosoil.org to learn more.
Parents tell their children to “clean your plate.” The expression came into existence in World War I when the U.S. government worried about wartime food shortages. It was revived during World War II when Harry Truman urged Americans to curb their food waste to send food supplies to starving post-war Europeans. Elementary schools promptly formed Clean Your Plate Clubs! So, figure out how composting can work for your family and “clean your plate.” Don’t run the disposal. Don’t throw food waste in the trashcan—and enjoy making a lot fewer trips dragging your trash barrel to the curb.
By Bev Harrison