Food Waste at Universities a Global Warming Concern, With Power Knot Offering Cost-Effective Solutions

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A study shows that colleges can waste about 202,707 pounds of total compostable food annually. While many schools have begun implementing composting on campus, Iain Milnes, founder and president of Power Knot, cautions that there is still a large quantity of waste being sent to landfills, giving off greenhouse gases and harming the environment.

Iain Milnes, founder and president of Power Knot, advises universities to do more to reduce food waste being sent to landfills.

Much more can be done, and there is still a tremendous amount of waste being sent to these landfills.

The average U.S. college student generates 142 pounds of food waste a year, according to RecyclingWorks, a Massachusetts recycling assistance program.1 The Food Recovery Network has found that college campuses throw out a combined total of 22 million pounds of uneaten food each year, most of which goes to landfills.

It’s a small—but significant—piece of the 35 million tons of food discarded by Americans in 2012 alone, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 40% of all food in the U.S. never even makes it to the plate before it’s tossed, yet 1 in 6 Americans goes hungry.

All-you-can-eat cafeterias inadvertently encourage food waste at college campuses across the United States.2 Michigan State University students each waste an average of 1.54 pounds of food per week—at a school of 47,800 students, that’s 14,191 pounds of food per day. Based on a study of dining hall meals over the course of two weeks, a Virginia Tech student discovered annual rates of 169,055 pounds of edible food waste and 202,797 pounds of total compostable waste. Today, 70% of the college’s food waste is composted.

Iain Milnes, founder and president of Power Knot, a leading manufacturer of eco-friendly and cost-effective solutions for waste food disposal, praises universities for their efforts in diverting food from the landfills. “However,” he emphasized, “much more can be done, and there is still a tremendous amount of waste being sent to these landfills.” By way of example, he noted that during the 2012-14 school years, the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Dining Services wasted a total of 1,735 tons, or 3,470,000 pounds, of food, with six percent of that being sent to landfills.3 That totals 208,200 pounds of food waste sent to landfills for just this one school, according to the university’s Annual Sustainable Food Reports.

Per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, diverting food waste from landfills not only conserves limited landfill space, but also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.4 Organic materials in landfills—such as food scraps and yard trimmings—are broken down by bacteria to produce methane. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is shown to have a warming potential of 72 times that of carbon dioxide. As we try to combat global climate change, we need to reduce the level of methane emissions being released into the atmosphere.

Furthermore, by relegating food waste to landfills, a valuable resource is being wasted. When properly processed, food scraps can generate renewable energy, enhance the soil as a fertilizer, and feed animals. Composting food waste produces a natural fertilizer, which can create healthier soil and reduce the need for often toxic synthetic fertilizers. Through anaerobic digestion, bacteria can digest food waste to produce methane, a valuable energy source when captured.

“We commend efforts such as the third annual Food Waste & Hunger Summit held this past April at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville,” Milnes said.5 About 250 emerging leaders representing the next generation of hunger relief attended, from engaged university students to leading national nonprofit organizations. They shared best practices, ideas, and resources to expand effectiveness in the fight against food insecurity.

Milne added, “We know that our LFC (Liquid Food Composter) is a reliable and cost-effective solution to the challenge of corporate social responsibility, as we are faced by universities and other industries which are plagued by high amounts of food waste. Our seven LFC models, treating from 110 up to 4,000 pounds of food waste a day, allow campus kitchens to cleanly and safely break down the waste on-site. In doing so, the university generates goodwill with students, staff, parents, and the growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers.

About Power Knot’s LFC:

Power Knot’s LFC is a reliable solution to the challenge of corporate social responsibility faced by industries plagued with high amounts of food waste. It allows companies to cleanly and safely break down the waste on-site, and in doing so, to generate goodwill with the growing number of environmentally-conscious consumers. Power Knot’s clean technology solutions will continue to help advance the global movement toward sustainability and zero waste initiatives.

About Power Knot:

Power Knot, with its headquarters in San Jose, Calif., provides innovative solutions for commercial, industrial, and military customers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. The company designs, manufactures, and sells self-contained systems that eliminate waste food.

Its LFCs (Liquid Food Composters) are high-quality, technologically-advanced bio-digesters capable of rapid digestion of most organic materials. LFCs create a safe and economical resolution for customers looking to address their carbon footprint by diverting waste food from landfills and by reducing emissions related to the transportation of waste.

LFCs represent long-term performance and sustainability for any organization. LFCs typically have a payback period of six to 24 months based on reduced waste and costs of waste disposal. For more information, access http://www.powerknot.com.

1.    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/27/389284061/when-food-is-too-good-to-waste-college-kids-pick-up-the-scraps.

2.    http://www.endfoodwastenow.org/index.php/issues/issues-schools.

3.    https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2016/08/sustainability-reports-show-over-1700-tons-of-dining-commons-food-wasted.

4.    https://www3.epa.gov/region9/waste/features/foodtoenergy/food-waste.html.

5.    http://www.campuskitchens.org/summit.

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