In 2022, the Town of Cary established a pilot food waste drop-off program to divert food waste from the landfill and to create compost now used at Good Hope Farm. The response surpassed expectations, and “the pilot’s initial goal of collecting a minimum of 16 tons of food scraps resulted in an actual collection of 40 tons,” according to a release published earlier this month.

Despite early success, Assistant Town Manager Danna Widmar knows more buy-in is needed to grow the program. “While we continue to see increased use, we know not everyone was an early adopter. We encourage citizens to try it out if they haven’t yet.” Diverting food waste from landfills is a goal Widmar shares with the global environmental and scientific communities, which are concerned about the connections between food waste, a warming planet and environmental and health problems.

Food waste buried in landfills breaks down in an oxygen-deprived environment, producing methane as a by-product. Recently, NC Policy Watch reported that the Sampson County Landfill ranks No. 2 in the nation for methane emissions. In addition to methane, landfill-deposited food waste produces 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, matching the yearly (CO2) output of 42 coal-fired power plants, according to a 2021 Environmental Protection Agency report.

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Author:  Will Atwater, North Carolina Health News
Image: Town of Cary