As part of Food Waste Prevention Week, MI Environment is highlighting two Michigan municipalities that are offering residents ways to reduce their food waste by keeping it out of landfills. Landfilled food is one of the biggest sources of methane, a key driver of climate change. So it’s not a surprise that the state’s MI Healthy Climate Plan has a goal of cutting the amount of landfilled food in half by 2030.

But with more than two billion pounds of food going to Michigan landfills each year, cutting that in half in only six years is a big lift. That is where Southfield and Wixom come in to help foster innovation in the food space.  Because Southeast Michigan is the most populated area of the state, addressing food waste is expected to have a major impact on the overall state goal.

Make Food Not Waste, along with 17 local and national partners, is taking food waste head on by defining what it takes to divert all of a city’s food waste from landfills, starting with the city of Southfield. The Make Food Not Waste team is creating a detailed plan that incorporates all of the best practices in food waste reduction from around the country. The plan will include recommendations for source reduction, food rescue, upcycling, and organics recycling.

The approach underscores two important points: first, there is no “one” solution to food waste; and second, stopping food from going into landfills only happens by working together. By early fall, the group will have a detailed map outlining the communication, infrastructure, and logistical needs to divert all of Southfield’s food waste to alternate uses detailed in EGLE’s Sustainable Food Hierarchy. With that in place, the plan can be replicated in other highly populated cities. If it sounds ambitious, it is.

Make Food Not Waste, an environmental non-profit based in Detroit, is a recipient of an EGLE Zero Food Waste Pilot grant to tackle this goal. Read about The 2030 Project to learn more. Another city starting a food scrap program is Wixom. Beginning this week, Wixom is making it easy for residents to have food scraps and yard waste collected weekly curbside. The scraps and yard waste will be composted and used in gardens and city projects.

Acceptable food scraps include fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meats, bones, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves and tea bags, paper napkins and paper towels (free of chemical cleaners), breads, grains, and spoiled food from the refrigerator. The city is partnering with Spurt Industries, Green for Life, and Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRASOC) for this program.

“Efforts by Michigan cities are key to achieving Michigan’s food waste reduction strategy,” said Jeff Spencer, a manager in the EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “Southfield and Wixom are pioneers in this effort. EGLE expects other cities to follow in the footsteps of the work initiated by these progressive communities.”

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Image: My Green Michigan