NYC Expands Mandatory Food Waste Law
In early February, after determining that sufficient organics processing capacity is available to allow for an increase in food waste diversion, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced new rules under Local Law 146 of 2013 to expand the city’s existing commercial organic waste separation program. Food-generating businesses covered by the law are required to separate their organic waste for collection and handling by their private carters, transport organic waste themselves, or manage it on-site using in-vessel composting or aerobic or anaerobic digestion systems (subject to compliance with the City’s sewer discharge regulations). Included under the expanded law are: 1) Food service establishments with a floor area space of at least 15,000 sq. ft; 2) Food service establishments that are part of a chain of 100 or more locations in the city of New York and that operate under common ownership or control, are individually franchised outlets of a parent business, or do business under the same corporate name; and 3) Retail food stores with a floor area space of at least 25,000 sq. ft. The effective date of the new law is August 15, 2018.
Existing establishments required to source separate food waste are: 1) Arena or stadiums with seating capacity of at least 15,000 persons; 2) Food service establishments located within a hotel having at least 150 sleeping rooms, operating under common ownership or control of such hotel, and receiving waste collection from the same private carter as such hotel; 3) Food manufacturers with floor area of at least 25,000 sq. ft.; and 4) Food wholesalers with floor area of at least 25,000 sq. ft.
A designated covered establishment may also donate food that would otherwise be thrown away to a third party, such as a charity, sell or donate the food to a farmer for feedstock, or sell or donate meat by-products to a rendering company, which converts animal fats into lard. Food managed through such donations or sales is not within the meaning of “organic waste” under this rule.
Transit Authority Makes Switch To Renewable Diesel
The Western Contra Costa Transit Authority (WestCAT), a public transportation service in western Contra Costa County, California, has switched its entire fleet of 45 heavy duty buses from operating on petroleum diesel to using only Neste MY Renewable Diesel™ made from hydrogenated nonfood grade vegetable oils, and waste and residue fractions coming from the food, fish and slaughterhouse industries. WestCAT operates a network of 14 fixed routes within a 20 square mile service area, and carries more than 1.3 million passengers annually.
The hydrotreating of vegetable oils as well as suitable waste and residue fat fractions to produce renewable diesel is based on traditional oil refining technologies and employed for production of biofuels for diesel engines. In the process, hydrogen is used to remove oxygen from the triglyceride vegetable oil molecules and to split the triglyceride into three separate chains, thus creating hydrocarbons that are similar to existing diesel fuel components. This allows blending in any desired ratio without any concerns regarding fuel quality.
School Districts Switch To Compostable Products
The School Districts of Philadelphia and Baltimore City Public Schools, both members of the Urban School Food Alliance (Alliance), will no longer use polystyrene serving items and instead, switch to compostable round plates designed by the Alliance in lunchrooms. Combined, the two districts currently dispose 19 million polystyrene food service items annually. “One of the reasons we joined the Urban School Food Alliance last fall was not only to be able to provide the best quality food for our students, but to also implement sound environmental practices,” explains Elizabeth Marchetta, executive director of the Food and Nutrition Department at Baltimore City Public Schools. “With more and more cities striving for zero waste, we wanted to become proactive in making a change for the betterment of our community.”
The Urban School Food Alliance is a coalition of the largest school districts in the U.S. that includes New York City (NYC), Los Angeles (LA), Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Orange County in Orlando (FL), Broward County in Fort Lauderdale (FL), Clark County in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston. These districts serve nearly 3.7 million children daily, translating to more than 631 million meals a year. With an annual budget of $831 million in food and supplies, the nonprofit group enables the districts to share best practices and to leverage their purchasing power to continue to drive food quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices.
In 2014, the original six members of the group (NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, Dallas and Orange County) challenged industry to develop an innovative and affordable environmentally-friendly, certified compostable round plate to replace 225 million polystyrene trays across their six school districts each year. Schools across the U.S. use polystyrene trays because they cost less than compostable ones —about $0.04 apiece vs. about $0.12 each. Given the extremely tight budgets in school meal programs, affording compostable plates seemed impossible until the Alliance’s member districts used their collective purchasing power to drive development of a compostable round plate for schools at an affordable cost of about $0.05 each.
The American-made molded fiber compostable round plate made for the Alliance is produced from 100 percent preconsumer recycled paper fibers. The round plate, manufactured in Maine by Huhtamaki North America, has five compartments, with the beverage compartment strategically placed in the middle to balance the weight of a typical meal. The innovative design prevents hinging or bending and is easy to handle, notes the Alliance.
The Philadelphia School District, which now uses the compostable plate, is meeting with student environmental clubs to help design a marketing campaign to get the word out about the new compostable plates and how they help preserve the environment. The district also plans a pilot program among its high schools to compost the plates. “As one of the smaller districts in the Alliance, we couldn’t have afforded to purchase compostable plates on our own,” says the District’s Senior Vice President of Food Services Wayne T. Grasela. The Baltimore School District is rolling out compostable plates over the next three months in the district. It currently has composting programs in a few middle schools and plans to pilot new ones in other schools.
Snacks From Scraps
Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. meat producer, wants to expand its offerings in the snack food market. Sales of meat snacks have surged almost 30 percent over the last four years, hitting $2.9 billion in 2017, Nielsen data show. Consumers are embracing high-protein products as they cut back on sugar. Tyson assembled a team to focus on snacks and product development, with a goal to develop a new consumer product to put on store shelves in six months. The team started in January, according to European Supermarket Magazine, and is developing a protein snack that Tyson says will utilize ingredients like poultry scraps, spent grain from brewers and vegetable pulp from juicers.