Roundtable Recap

Yesterday’s EPA-led food waste roundtable was nothing if not energizing. The whole idea was to get all food waste stakeholders into one room. Given that there were about 125 attendees, including¬†retailers, food service reps, municipal solid waste, composters, consultants, researchers, anaerobic digestion vendors, EPA representatives and at least one blogger, it had to be a pretty big room.

As you can see, there wasn’t necessarily one giant round table, but many. The 4.5 hour event was mostly¬†a guided discussion facilitated by the EPA’s Jean Scwab, who noted that the agency had The round table roomrecently updated their page on food waste.

The conversation slalomed through the opportunities and obstacles at each level of the Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy.We went from reducing waste to composting it. I was particularly pleased that we spent a good amount of time on the former.

The round table included a presentation from Walmart’s director of solid waste and recycling, Bobby Fanning. He detailed their efforts to reduce food waste throughout their stores, which was heartening. More significantly, Fanning said that the retailer had a goal of diverting all food waste from the landfill by the end of 2010. I was surprised by that, but shocked by his assertion that they were 80% there.

Another surprise was that there was not one representative from the USDA. And they were invited. That kind of says it all.

Finally, one of my suggestions was that we need an up-to-date, exhaustive study to assess just how much food we waste. I won’t be holding my breath for a new study any time soon, but after the positivity stemming from the event, you just never know!

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