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Eco-entrepreneurs put food scraps to work (Eco news)


Eco-entrepreneurs put food scraps to work
Globe and Mail reported

Bananas, the world’s most popular fruit, are the go-to healthy office snack. Just think of how many peels get tossed in cubicle garbage cans across the country every day.

Contrary to common thinking, banana peels don’t just harmlessly decompose once they end up in a landfill. Rather, they rot and release methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Organics make up a huge part of the overall waste stream, and while recycling is more commonplace than ever, composting is still catching up. Municipalities throughout Canada are at various stages of implementing residential kitchen-scrap-pickup programs, and most restaurants and hotels have long been eco-conscious about their organic trash.

But what about the thousands of offices nationwide and the millions of Canadians who chuck apple cores and unfinished sandwiches into the trash every day?

Vancouver-based Urban Impact is one of a handful of companies offering office compost service to help counter so much unnecessary waste.

“Metro Vancouver is getting very aggressive goals in terms of waste reduction, and composting is without a doubt going to be a huge contributor to reaching those goals,” says Urban Impact president and chief executive officer Nicole Stefenelli. Organic waste diversion “is the next step,” she says.

About one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year, according to the 2011 Global Food Losses and Food Waste study for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

In Canada, about 40 per cent of food is thrown out instead of consumed, according to a study by the George Morris Centre, an agri-business think tank in Guelph, Ont. That’s about $27-billion worth. “This inevitably also means that huge amounts of the resources used in food production are used in vain, and that the greenhouse gas emissions caused by production of food that gets lost or wasted are also emissions in vain,” the study stated.

In Metro Vancouver, residents and businesses are working toward a target of 70 per cent waste diversion from landfill by 2015 as part of the Zero Waste Challenge.

While many progressive workplaces have volunteer-driven compost programs in place, Urban Impact’s service strives to make composting as simple as possible for those in suits.

Here’s how it works: Urban Impact drops off a collection container, people put their food scraps in it, then the company picks it up and replaces it with a fresh one every week or two. Urban Impact takes the compostable materials to Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre Ltd., a processor that turns them into nutrient-rich soil.

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