Regulation of Food Waste
Having spent the last 3 years learning the Food Service business and trade, the way to handle troublesome matters is “just get it done as quickly as possible”.
That’s understandable because their revenue and business depend on preparing and serving the best meals to their customers, at the best price, and still leave a reasonable profit. That is a tall order in today’s economy, no matter whether it’s a college dining hall, a military mess hall or the finest restaurant in a 5-star hotel.
Everything else that has to be dealt with as a result of preparing and serving the meal comes out of the profit. Waste is a major expense in food service operations and there are many sources to show from where they come. Food waste is the dreaded “by-product”, from the dining experience.
What happened in the past
When I started working in the metal finishing industry, every external piece of metal and plastic on an automobile was metal plated, as well as the internal trim. Spent plating baths containing thousands of pounds of hazardous heavy metals, had to be dumped periodically and made fresh.
Companies had to treat the spent baths to make them safe to be discharged from the plant. At that time, they didn’t have to treat their water rinses between plating tanks on the plating line, because they contained lower concentrations of metals.
Slowly, the EPA began to pass and enforce regulations requiring plating shops to treat their rinse waters before sending them to drain. The responsibility for treatment and disposal of the hazardous waste became part of the plating business along with the associated cost.
What’s happening today
Fast-forwarding to today we are in the beginning stages of handling the disposal of food waste by environmentally responsible methods. The advantage is that food waste is less hazardous than heavy metal waste.
A majority of food waste in this country is being sent to landfills, which are getting full. The natural process of food waste breaking down generates tons of greenhouse gases (GHG), that pollute the air and affect global warming. It’s just another mode of adversely affecting the environment.
Food waste is not treated as a hazardous waste. We read about landfills closing because they are saturated with waste. Progressive states are passing legislation to address the problem by requiring large quantity generators of food waste to divert their waste to another method of disposal, such as composting, so the organic value of the waste can be reused.
The government again is dealing with waste issues by legislation. as took place in the metal finishing industry years ago. Innovations in technology contributed to the water quality from metal finishing plants improving to the point that today, the effluent water quality is better than the water coming into the plants.
In the same way, government mandates to divert food waste are resulting in new technologies being developed to better handle the large quantities of food waste.
Fast-forward another 10 years and discarding food waste at any level, including households, will not be allowed in my opinion. Several New England states already have legislation getting to that level in the next 5 years or so.
The infrastructure to handle huge quantities of waste is in the works. Discarding food waste rather than reusing or composting it will be treated the way littering has come to be, with fines.
I will go into some of these technologies and why some are better than others in upcoming blogs.