Historically high commodity prices are making restaurants, colleges, hospitals and other institutions deal with the rising costs of waste with innovative ways, AP reports.
In the U.S., about 30 percent of food goes to waste, costing some $48 billion annually, according to a Stockholm Water Institute study. An earlier study released in 2004 by the University of Arizona puts the total higher, estimating that 40 percent to 50 percent of U.S. food is wasted.
At Virginia Tech, the university eliminated cafeteria trays this summer to reduce the amount of leftovers going into the trash. Denny Cochrane, manager of Virginia Tech’s sustainability program, told AP that eliminating the trays has cut food waste by 38 percent at the cafeterias.
Oregon’s Portland International Airport is reducing food waste by ramping up a three-year-old program to install food-only trash cans, which collects the food in biodegradable bags and then gives them to the city to use as compost.
Although composting and using biodegradable bags remains a costly proposition, the airport may eventually save money. It costs about $82 to have one ton of trash hauled from the airport to the city landfill, but food waste only costs about $48 a ton to haul away. Last year, the airport diverted 165 tons of food out of the trash stream, which would equal a savings of about $5,600 in hauling fees alone.