Almost half the materials Americans discard – food scraps,
yard trimmings, and soiled paper – are compostable. While
58% of the 34 million tons of yard trimmings are recovered
for composting, the recovery level for the 36 million tons of
food scraps remains low at only 4.8%.1
Municipal and county governments and private food scrap generators increasingly recognize the importance of diverting food scraps from disposal
to reach recycling goals and manage solid waste handling costs.
More than 180 communities have now instituted residential food scrap collection programs, up from only a handful a decade ago. Countless supermarkets, schools, restaurants, and other businesses and institutions are also source separating their foodscraps for composting. One benefit of composting is that it can be small scale, large scale, and everything in between: small backyard bins, on-site campus systems, farm-based operations, low-tech and high-tech regional facilities. While large-scale
centralized facilities will undoubtedly be needed in order to reach
high recycling levels, close-by locally-based sites are not only
viable, but also bring many local benefits.