Food Waste (Organics)
The highest priority is to ensure food is being eaten! Collaborate with the Sustainability Program Manager to develop upstream solutions unique to your school community in order to prevent food waste in the first place.
Why do we collect food waste?
40% of food produced in the U.S. goes to waste. Food waste is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters because it releases a gas called methane that is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Beginning in 2022, Metro is requiring all schools keep back-of-house (kitchen) food scraps out of garbage. For PPS, that means we will be onboarding all schools with kitchen food waste collection starting in fall 2019.
What types of materials do we collect in the food waste?
- Fruits and veggies
- Grains (bread, rice, etc.)
- Meat (chicken, fish, beef, etc.)
- Dairy (cheese, yogurt, eggs – no liquids, i.e. milk)
- Bones, egg shells
- Leftovers, scraps
- Spoiled food
Why is this different than composting at home?
Because PPS is considered a commercial business, it must adhere to Metro’s commercial food waste regulations. This means that we can only accept food. The food waste from commercial businesses IS NOT composted alongside residential compost. Residential compost goes to Recology in North Plains to be composted. It is important that the food waste is not contaminated with things such as napkins, wrappers, plastic utensils, etc. If you put it in your mouth to eat, then it can go in the food waste.
What happens to the food waste?
It is taken to an anaerobic digester in Junction City, OR called JC-Biomethane. There, microbes digest the food waste and produce methane. The methane is then captured and burned to produce electricity that Junction City residents use to power their homes. You can see how this is done here.
Schools with Cafeteria Food Waste Collection
PPS has decided to discontinue front-of-house (cafeteria) food waste collection at participating schools, with the exception of schools that have been able to consistently maintain the program with dedicated volunteers and staff. They are great examples for other schools should PPS decide to expand the program in the future.
Volunteers are often in charge of maintaining this segment of the food waste program, while others schools have staff members who incorporate the responsibilities into their jobs. These schools have demonstrated that they can deliver clean food waste material without contamination.