Here at Agri-Cycle, we work with many organizations and businesses to help them reduce food waste – but we also work with local municipalities who want to provide their residents with the same option to take food waste out of their landfills and recycle and upcycle it back into the economy and environment. We’ve been partnering with Brunswick, Maine since 2020 to help them reduce the food that makes it to landfill. We asked them to share their experience for other communities interested in reducing food waste.
Why is Food Waste an Important Topic?
Food waste makes up about 28% of Maine household trash. Unlike other types of trash (returnable cans, cardboard, chemicals, etc.), food waste is heavy and bulky, meaning that it makes landfills grow quickly. Decomposing food waste in landfills is one of the highest emitters of methane in the world, which contributes to global climate change.
Food waste is a valuable resource to those who are looking to save money, start their own gardens, and support the environmental stability of their communities. Recycling your food waste helps you capture its value and potential!
Here in Brunswick, we recently launched a program with the financial support of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to double the town’s amount of residential food waste that gets recycled. We are doing this by raising awareness of three ways for residents to participate: composting at home, signing up for a curbside collection service, and using food waste drop-off sites.
How Does Food Get Wasted at the Residential Level?
Grocery stores are designed to make consumers purchase more. This results in buying more than we need. Date labeling can be confusing, such as “Best by,” “Expired by,” and “Sell by.” They all mean different things, and there are no federal standards for this language for consumers to rely on. Meal planning and storing leftovers properly are great ways to reduce food waste.
How Did You Get Started with Agri-Cycle?
We met with Agric-Cycle in the summer of 2020 to explore ways in which we could work together to set up the town’s first food waste drop-off site. They provided helpful recommendations about where to locate it, how to maintain it, and examples of signage to instruct users.
We launched the drop-off site later that fall and, within two months, had to increase our collection capacity due to its popularity. Its success has been the foundation of our recent efforts to further increase food waste recycling in our community, including the addition of a second drop-off site.
Why is Your Partnership with Agri-Cycle Important?
Agri-Cycle is important to Brunswick because it services and supports our two food waste drop-off sites. These drop-off sites can be used for FREE by all Brunswick residents, making them accessible and financially feasible for all.
The town’s goal of doubling the amount of residential food waste recycling cannot be achieved without the participation of Agri-Cycle. Their unique de-packaging system makes our drop-off sites an easy program for residents to participate in because they can transport and leave their food waste in its packaging without the worry and hassle of dealing with loose food scraps.
Reducing as many obstacles as possible in this process is vital to successfully attracting residents to recycle their food waste on a regular basis. Agri-Cycle has done a great job of this!
How Does Your Residential Food Waste Program Work?
Residents are encouraged to bring their food scraps, expired packaged snacks, fish bones, peanut butter, etc., to these convenient drop-off locations in town. There is instructional messaging at each location to inform residents about what can be included. Agri-Cycle empties the collection containers on a weekly basis and transports the material to its anaerobic digestion facility in Exeter.
What are the best aspects?
The best parts of these food waste drop-off sites are that they are free and so easy to use. They are located at two different locations in town, and they can accept more types of material than a home compost pile or curbside collections services.
How does it work for residents?
Residents gather their food scraps, stale packaged snacks, old plants, bones, oils, etc., in a container or bag and drop off their material at one of our food waste collection sites. It’s as easy as that!
How has participation been?
Overall, participation has been fantastic and has exceeded our expectations! Feedback from the community has been incredibly positive, and we couldn’t be happier with the program!
We’ve greatly enjoyed our partnership with the town of Brunswick, along with our wide array of business partners in both the public and private sectors. If you’re interested in assistance with food waste in your community, we can help. Learn a bit more about our services, and make sure to check out the FAQ! We have helped towns, cities, and counties better handle food waste, reduce transfer station loads, save massive amounts of money, and improve community sustainability. Contact us today to learn more.