In the last year, we have generated 1.3 billion tons of food waste in this world. If you think about it that is more than 20 lbs of food for each person a month. This food waste ends up in landfills where it emits harmful methane gasses.
Some cities have decided to address the problem by creating civic compost programs. In Seattle, Washington, they passed mandates that food scraps be kept out of the regular trash bins and placed in a specialized bin that the city picks up once a week. In Austin, Texas, there is a similar program with plans to create and then expand to the entire urban city area over the next 10 years.
In the meantime, private networks and small businesses are creating actionable change now. One of these companies is the Austin Compost Pedallers. This company is a new start-up which is a bike-powered, carbon-neutral food scrap waste pickup service. This company was started in 2012 by Dustin Fedako and since then has been able to divert 500,000 pounds of food waste out of the traditional system and into a community composting project. They have 650 subscribers within a 5 mile radius of downtown Austin who each pay $16 a month for the recycling service.
Anyone who signs up for the service takes their egg shells, banana peels, plant waste and coffee grounds and puts them into their 5-gallon bucket making sure they don’t throw away and animal products.
Then the bucket goes out on the porch where the cyclists will roll by and clean out the waste. The buckets are cleaned and then returned to the ecologically aware homeowner lives. The food waste is picked up by one of the 9 cyclists and placed into a larger bin which they strap to the front of the bike or on a trailer that they tow behind.
At the end of the day, the food scraps are hauled to one of the company’s garden partners which they call comHosts such as the Springdale Farms.
With the help of the Composts Pedallers’ handbook, the farmers will add the compost scraps to their personal compost piles and transform the waste into material for growing food. It is estimated that the company has been able to keep an estimated 70 tons of extra methane gas out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Small companies like the Compost Pedallers are the ones who are keeping the local progress moving forward. This way organic farms have the compost they need and the food that is grown goes back into helping the community.
“We have an ever-growing demand for the service that we just can’t meet,” Fedako says.
In order to help meet this growing demand Fedako has launched his own fundraising campaign to help them buy a new fleet of specialized electric-assisted Trek bikes which will allow the company to reach a larger area of people. People at the top of steep hills and outlying neighborhoods will then be able to recycle their food waste into growing organic food.
“I used to compost with the company, but I recently moved outside of our service area,” says Fedako.
Instead of using the company he has decided to start composting in his own back yard. However, once he is able to expand his company he will be the first to sign up for the service.
Let us know in the comments below if you feel that this service should be available in all cities world wide.
Image Credit: COMPOST PEDALLERS