2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

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Who? The Sustainable Management Advisory Committee

What? 2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

When? All day | October 24th

Where? Campus Cafeteria

Why? To be more waste wise!

A year ago, I was studying abroad in Spain, but was able to keep up on some exciting things going on within the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee on campus. The biggest thing we had been working on was an Eco-Rep program, which is now a full-time paid position in most dormitories.

Another event that happened was a Food Waste Audit in the cafeteria to put on display how much organic waste we throw away as students. We have tried different events to raise awareness like “no tray” or “trayless” days, but it seems annoying to our student population more than anything. So, we decided something that was easy for us to put on and easy for students to do – handing your tray to someone instead of putting it on the conveyor belt is pretty simple. The idea is to create an eye opening scene, encouraging students to not be wasteful and take only what they can eat. Before we take a look into what an audit actually is, let’s look at a few eye-opening facts:

  1. Between 1/4 and 1/2 of the more than 590 billion pounds of food produced each year in the United States is squandered during the farm-to-table supply chain. Using this range, food writer and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom estimates that every day America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California – and sometimes it’s as much as two stadiums full.
  2. Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50% since 1974.
  3. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010 discarded food represented the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.
  4. Approximately $100 to $160 billion is spent each year on producing food that is ultimately wasted. (This estimate comes from Jonathan Bloom’s American Wasteland.)
  5. A large portion of food waste occurs in households. The average American throws away 20 pounds of food each month or about two-thirds of a pound per person per day.
  6. Given the water- and energy-intensive nature of growing, processing, packaging, warehousing, transporting and preparing food, it follows that wasted food means wasted energy, water and agricultural resources. Approximately 2.5% of the U.S. energy budget is “thrown away” annually as food waste. This is equivalent to the energy contained in hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. In addition, 25% of all freshwater consumed annually in the US is associated with discarded food – about as much as the volume of Lake Erie.

A waste audit is a rather simple and a formal, structured process used to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated by an organization, in this case Mount Union’s student body. Information from audits will help identify current waste practices and how they can be improved. Being waste-wise can mean a more efficient and effective organization, reduced waste management costs and better use of limited natural resources.

Depending on the situation, there can be many objectives of an audit. Mainly it is to determine composition and quantities of waste being generated, to measure effectiveness of existing waste management systems, to identify opportunities for improving waste management systems and strategies and to collect baseline data for measuring the effectiveness of waste minimization strategies. For our event, it is more to create an awareness and try to change the mindset of a wasteful student body.

Don’t be wasteful. A lot of waste can be composted too. Find out how to build a compost bin here, and check out 75 things you can compost but thought you couldn’t, including: toilet paper rolls, sticky notes, tea bags, coffee grounds, pizza crust and moldy cheese, among others.