The task (force) begins

This past week marked the beginning of a new venture: the first meeting of the tentatively-named North Carolina Food Waste Task Force. The group stemmed from a food waste seminar organized by some folks at the N.C. Dept of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance and the Carolina Composting Council.

We met last Tuesday at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle‘s Raleigh headquarters and now we’re off and running. We discussed many topics, ranging from restaurant composting to the EPA food diversion hierarchy.

The task force’s stated goal is to divert food–both edible and inedible–from landfills. While I’m most interested in the former, the latter is more timely in North Carolina. While the state is in the midst of a year-long moratorium on building new landfills, the Governor’s office and the General Assembly are considering the wisdom of allowing the state to become a major trash importer. And just today, there’s a front page article in Raleigh’s The News & Observer about how biodegradable plates aid landfills.

Diversion is important because if food can’t be used, it shouldn’t end up in a landfill where its decomposition emits methane. That greenhouse gas contributes to global warming and is 27 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Composting, if done properly, doesn’t release as much methane. Food is the largest component of the U.S. waste stream and landfills are the leading methane emitter.

Through composting and recycling, North Carolina now diverts about 6 percent of its food waste from landfills. While that doubles the national average, there’s no reason for 94 percent of the state’s food waste to be buried in a big hole.

This task force is open to anyone with a real interest in the topic. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. For more information, e-mail the friendly Brian Rosa of NC DPPEA (Brian dot Rosa at ncmail dot net). Did I mention Whole Foods donated lunch for the first meeting? And yes, the leftovers were put to good use–they were passed on to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, the food recovery organization that was hosting the meeting.

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