We are thrilled to announce that on 6/16/11 our post-consumer food waste permit was approved by DEQ! (A post-consumer food waste permit allows a composter to accept both food prep fruits and veggies plus any food from a plate that has not been eaten). We believe this makes Dirt Hugger the 10th full food scraps permitted facility in Oregon. The exciting part is that we can now divert a much greater volume of material from the landfill and the material that we can capture (food) is the highest methane producing component in a landfill.*
The next steps are to devise a roll-out plan with our hauling partners and begin testing a few loads of post-consumer food scraps. We know there is a boat load of interest in the Gorge for full food waste composting and we will post as soon as we can take on new customers. One major issue that we will need to tackle during the roll out is whether or not we can accept “compostable” products (cups, straws, utensils). PLA and synthetic compostable service ware are not OMRI approved organic feedstocks. Furthermore, many “compostables” do not break down in a commercial composting process and need to be tested for compostability prior to opening the flood gates from restaurants and coffee shops. And lastly, many “compostables” have an embedded energy 30 times greater than traditional products, which doesn’t do much good if they end up in a landfill.
For now many facilities are not accepting compostable products. Some facilities pull the products and pile them up not knowing what to do. Some facilities are playing with dual stream processing (one organic, one not). And we are still unsure. Stay tuned.
We owe a big thanks to Larry Brown, Bruce Lumper, and Elizabeth Druback from the DEQ for their expeditious permitting and helpful support.
*Playing around with EPA’s WARM tool (a carbon calculator) you can see the incredible impact food waste diversion has on C02 reduction. Ironically, recycling wood waste and yard debris is nearly a wash from a CO2 perspective. The true benefits of yard debris and wood waste composting come from creating a new nutrient-rich product (soil) and ideally reduced trucking distances from the landfill.