FOOD WASTE RECYCLING IN UPSTATE NEW YORK: A QUALITATIVE STUDY EXPLORING THE FEASIBILITY OF FEEDING FOOD SCRAPS TO ANIMALS
No Access Until
Food waste is an inevitable consequence of the current structure of our food system. Recycling food scraps and using them as an energy source is a strategy that can reduce food waste disposal in US landfills and promote a circular economy. This can be done through feeding food scraps to animals, industrial uses such as anaerobic digestion, or composting. In this assessment of food scrap recycling habits, in-depth interviews were conducted with organic waste generators and receivers in Upstate New York. This study was conducted in response to the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act, which will go into effect in January of 2022. New York’s organics ban is a piece of legislation that will redirect waste streams from food scrap generators who produce over 2 tons of organic matter per week and will require these generators to use their scraps in energy efficient ways. Interviews focused specifically on feeding food scraps to animals, as it is the recycling strategy that yields the most benefit for society, the economy, and the environment (EPA, n.d.). Interview responses were used to identify the benefits and challenges of using food scraps as animal feed in Upstate New York. We identified that food scrap use as animal feed provides a significant economic benefit to farmers and generators alike, proving to be an integral strategy to agricultural production in Upstate New York. We also found that investments in infrastructure and policy education and outreach are critical to increasing recycling capacity in NYS to promote or mandate the recycling of food scraps.