What is the Zero Food Waste Challenge?
The Challenge is a town-wide effort to decrease residential food waste by at least 25%. Why? Because close to 1 out of 4 bags of groceries end up being thrown away, and food waste is one of the heaviest (and wettest) and therefore most expensive, types of trash for the town to incinerate. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the US!
Join the 2020 Zero Food Waste Team
There’s lots of great work already happening in Westport to reduce food waste, but there’s so much more we could be doing to speed up our progress. Here’s where we could use your help:
- Help educate the community about better ways to decrease wasted food
- Table at an event to help guide the community on how to decrease wasted food, and how to compost
- Implement a home composting program
- Take photos or videos, write stories about how people and establishments are managing to decrease wasted food
- Identify new opportunities to rescue food (from grocers, restaurants, schools etc)
- Post suggestions for reducing food waste on social media
- (Your idea here)
To join, email us at ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org
Why Recycle Food Scraps?
Food scraps are one of the largest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators. However, food scraps are not trash, it is a resource that can be turned into useful compost. Recycling food scraps into compost captures its nutrients and energy and returns them to the environment. When food scraps are sent to a landfill or incinerator this resource is lost. In a landfill, food scraps create methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that traps CO2 and contributes to global warming. When sent to an incinerator, food scraps reduce the efficiency of the incinerator because it contains water and therefore doesn’t burn well. Composting food scraps turns that story around! Instead of wasting energy trying to burn food, or creating methane from landfilling it, composting food scraps produces a useful and valuable product that gives back to our nutrient life cycle, resulting in cleaner soil, water and air.
What Is Compost?
Compost is a soil amendment which enriches our soil. When purchasing a bag of potting soil or observing your landscaper putting down “dirt” you are using compost. Compost benefits our landscape by maximizing plant growth, preventing soil erosion and mitigating the frequency of water, fertilizer and pesticide use. By recycling your food scraps, you are reducing waste and creating compost – a double win!
I want to learn how to compost at home
Look out for composting and Zero Food Waste Challenge workshops, listed under “Events” or go to IValueFood.com for composting resources.
I don’t want to compost at home. Is there a service that will pick up my food scraps?
Mention Sustainable Westport in the comments section to get a one-time discount from Curbside Compost. Include the coupon ZFWCWESTPORT for a one-time discount from Action Containers.
Westport Food Scrap Recycling Program
How can I participate in the Westport Food Scrap Recycling Program?
THIS PROGRAM IS OPEN JULY 6TH
You can participate in this program as long as you are a resident of Westport. (This is a drop-off and voluntary program for residential use only). You are NOT required to have a food scrap “starter kit” to participate, as you can bring your food scraps in another receptacle to the Westport Transfer Station.
Drop-off Location and Hours
The food scrap recycling drop-off toters are located at the Westport Transfer Station, 300 Sherwood Island Connector. The drop-off site hours of operation are: Monday-Friday: 7am-2:30pm, Saturdays: 7am-noon, Closed Sundays and holidays.
Starter Kits & Compostable Bags
Starter kits can be purchased at Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center, 10 Woodside Lane, for $25 (Discounts for income-eligible are available as funding allows). Email first to confirm kits are available: ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org . Kits include one 2-gallon countertop pail, one 6-gallon home storage & transportation bin, and one roll of 25 compostable bags for your pail. Payment to Earthplace can be made by cash, check or credit card.
Starter kits are available to qualified income-eligible for free, as long as funding lasts. (Donations-no amount too small-will enable this free program to continue).
What do I do once I have a starter kit?
Most residents will fill the countertop pail with food scraps as needed. It is suggested that residents also have a larger bin for weekly storage and to transport food scraps to the Transfer Station . It is recommended that the food storage/transportation bin be kept indoors – either in the house or in the garage. You will then bring your transportation bin to the food scrap drop-off toters at the Transfer Station, to dispose of your food scraps as often as needed.
What items are accepted in the food scrap bins?
- ALL FOOD, including:
– Fruits and Vegetables (remove stickers, bands, ties)
– Meat and Poultry (bones ok)
– Fish and Shellfish (shells ok)
– Dairy Products
– Bread and Pasta
– Rice and Grains
– Eggshells and Eggs
– Chips and Snacks
– Nuts and Seeds
– Leftover, Spoiled and Expired Food (cooked ok)
– Coffee Grounds (paper filters ok)
– Tea Bags (no staples or nylon mesh bags)
– Paper Towels and Napkins
– Cut Flowers
– Compostable Bags (no plastic bags)
Note: This is more than backyard composting allows for!
What items are not accepted?
It is important NOT to include the following items, as they will contaminate your food scrap recyclables:
- Twist ties, elastic bands or stickers on fruit
- Plastic bags, plastic packaging and wrappers
- Baby/Hand wipes
- Glass, metal or plastic
- Pet waste or kitty litter
- Yard waste
- Nylon mesh tea bags, staples
Am I required to use compostable bags?
Using a compostable bag is not required. You can either use a BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) COMPOSTABLE bag, a paper bag, or no bag. If you choose to bring your food scraps in plastic bags, please be advised you will need to empty the food scraps into the large food scrap recycling toters and then throw the plastic bag in a separate can used for garbage.
Can I use plastic bags labeled “biodegradable”?
You must use a BPI Certified Compostable Bag (available for purchase at Earthplace, 10 Woodside Lane). Biodegradable bags that are not BPI Certified Compostable are not accepted at commercial composting facilities. Biodegradable bags may break down into smaller pieces of plastic. Compostable bags degrade at a rate consistent with the other compostable materials and leave no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue behind when they break down.
Will composting be messy or smelly?
Collecting food scraps should not be any more messy or smelly than putting food scraps in your trash. The same materials are being collected – just in a different container. Using compostable bags with your pail will also keep everything cleaner.
Where will the food scraps end up?
All material collected will be brought to a commercial composting facility, where it will be turned into compost. The compost is then sold to landscapers and garden centers.
Where does Westport’s trash go?
In Westport, over 15,000 tons of municipal solid waste are burned at an incinerator each year. Discarded food makes up almost 22 percent of waste in landfills and incinerators, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
13.9% of CT residents are food insecure-they do not have access to healthy food throughout the year. Sign up with Food Rescue US to pick up surplus food from food establishments such as supermarkets, restaurants, delis and schools and drop it off at community kitchens, food pantries and other receiving agencies. The app. will let you know what pick-ups are needed. You sign up at your convenience. No weekly commitments are required.