It’s neat to find a conference attracting practitioners of composting, anaerobic digestion, and other organic recycling schemes. BioCycle’s Global 2011 in San Diego is just that.

There’s plenty of talk of separating organics from the waste stream, air emissions from composting, and the carbon cap-and-trade system. There was even a very public debate about land application of biosolids.

Discussion on vermiculture has been robust. I’ve talked with worm composting experts from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Hawaii and…my hometown of Durham.

I was on a panel with Jeremy Seifert, the director of Dive!, and John Owens of Forgotten Harvest. The good news is that three people passionate about preventing food waste got to share their ideas with this crowd. The challenge is that we are in the vast minority here.

The real attention and money at BioCycle goes toward how to better process our organic waste, not on how to reduce waste creation or feed people with excess food. That’s not too surprising, as both of those actions require people modifying their behavior. But it needs t0 change.

There’s certainly a need for the attention on keeping organics from landfills. My goal is for food waste reduction to have a place at the table and an increased place at that. We shall see…

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  1. Posted April 14, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Jonathan-Thanks for the mention. We will keep fighting this war. I was proud to present with both of you. I will send you Wayne State info next week. Let us know when you are back in our area.

  2. Caroline
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed both of your presentations Jonathan and John, it was great to hear your insight.

  3. Posted April 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Hey John–Likewise! It was an honor sharing a stage with you. I look forward to our paths crossing in the not-too-distant future.

    Thanks Caroline–I appreciate it.

  4. Angel Arroyo-Rod.
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan & John, it really was great BioCycle included you both this year. As I told Jonathan, this is the first time that there are sections clearly defined to address food security. I know that for you both this might be surprising as the solutions you both promote are so obvious. At least to me they are and I know for many of my colleagues too.

    As Jonathan said, it takes a change in behavior. But for those of us in the organics recycling and environmental sustainability fields, is more than just behavior change. Speaking generally, we know source reduction and donation needs to happen, but is is hard to get focused on that area when the job we are hired for is focused on the lower part of the food waste diversion hierarchy. As a government worker, I have 7 million+ bosses that at any time could check if I’m doing what I’m supposed to. So we need not to be restricted to that, but we have to move forward by creating awareness and educating the public. I believe that in my state we are reaching the point where we can say to the public that we have done a lot of work at the lower level of the hierarchy but to move forward we need to work on the higher levels of the hierarchy. This is why the work you and John are doing is extremely important to us. The work you two do creating awareness opens a path for us and gives us the public’s support to focus resources on these areas.

    For environmental agencies, it is very easy to focus on the climate change and soil conservation aspects of food waste diversion. After all, their legal powers lie on environmental protection. But in the past few years we are seeing a paradigm change, going from waste disposal management to materials management. The whole regulatory framework is changing towards source reduction and beneficial use of all materials so they don’t become a waste.

    I hope that you both see your inclusion into the BioCycle conference program not as a tangent to the waste management industry, but as an invitation for collaboration to help us take food waste diversion to the next level. It is the socially responsible thing to do!

    Looking forward to learning more from you,


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