On May 18, 2013, Eureka Recycling released its newest report, Zero-Waste Composting: How Food Waste Can Help Conquer Climate Change and Prevent Disease.
This is the first report of its kind to quantify the human cost of not composting: climate change and disease. The report looks at financial costs of composting and quantifies the human and environmental costs--providing a model for cities and communities to calculate the true potential of composting. It offers a comparative analysis of the different methods for composting as well as the benefits of preventing food waste and composting at home in backyards.
The research for the report was compiled over three years. In 2010, Eureka set out to determine the best design of a comprehensive composting program for the City of Saint Paul. This report draws on a comprehensive body of work completed since then and includes data from several pilot studies, information, data and analysis from national research partners, and Eureka Recycling experience in operating recycling program, composting programs, and providing zero-waste education. Eureka Recycling created a proposal for a comprehensive composting program in Saint Paul based on recommendations in this report.
Visit Eureka Recycling's Zero-Waste Composting Website to download the following:
Executive Summary and Condensed Report (34 pages)
Executive Summary and Full Report (93 pages)
Report Press Release, May 18, 2013
Eureka Recycling, through a partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, received a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MN PCA) to explore the effectiveness of educational tools in helping residents to eat or store all the food that they buy, instead of wasting it.
While composting is a good solution for non-edible food waste like banana peels and eggshells, a significant amount of what ends up in the compost (or trash) could have been eaten if properly stored or planned for.
Currently, Americans are wasting more food than ever before. According to a recent study, we throw away 50% more food than 40 years ago. The majority of this wasted food occurs at the consumer level. Several recent reports are quantifying the avoidable wasted food, including its economic cost and environmental impacts. For example, 20% of vegetables produced are never eaten and wasted by consumers.
Based on recent estimates, the average Saint Paul household wastes up to $96 per month in preventable food waste. And that is just a measure of the cost of purchasing that food—not including the extraordinary amount of resources it takes to grow, harvest, process, and transport food from the field to the store, often including a trip half way around the world—which represents a significantly larger cost, financially and environmentally.
In June 2012, Eureka Recycling completed a toolkit to share lessons learned through this project. We have made this toolkit available free of charge to help guide any community that is interested in helping their residents prevent wasted food.
Eureka Recycling has been working with the City of Saint Paul to study and expand recycling in parks and other community gathering spaces. Pilot locations include Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, Mears Park, and the city's six largest urban park pavilions.
Eureka Recycling received a grant from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) to improve apartment, or "multifamily," recycling programs in Saint Paul and across the state. Multifamily recycling programs, which serve large apartment complexes, townhomes and condominiums, have great potential for increased recovery of recyclable material. These programs face many challenges, including high turnover, restricted space, and language and cultural barriers.
Saint Paul's multifamily recycling program has been recognized as one of the best in the nation. The OEA grant allowed Eureka Recycling to test strategies to further improve Saint Paul's program and make our expertise available to other communities in the form of an easy-to-use toolkit for busy recycling program managers.
To produce the toolkit, Eureka Recycling researched, developed and tested outreach materials at selected sites, paying special attention to the challenges of cross-cultural communication. The toolkit combines Eureka Recycling's 15-year experience with new insights from the study to help communities recover as much valuable recycling material as possible from all residents.
We have made this toolkit available free of charge to the recycling staff of any community.
In May 2002, Eureka Recycling, in partnership with the city of Saint Paul and the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (now part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), completed a 14-month study that takes a close look at five different ways to pick up recycling at the curb. The study examined how sorting method, container size and frequency of pickup affect the success of the recycling program as measured by environmental results, cost, convenience and resident satisfaction.
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Last Update: February 2014