In most American homes and businesses, food scraps are treated as just another part of the waste stream — discarded directly into the trash can, where they’re ultimately destined for the landfill. But recognizing the advantages of organic-waste recycling, a number of U.S. states and municipalities have begun instituting requirements that food scraps be separated from other business and household waste for diversion from landfills.
Prominent examples include:
- California, where requirements for businesses to recycle organic waste began in 2016, and residential organics-recycling requirements were introduced in 2022.
- Vermont, where mandates to compost/donate food scraps began for large food-waste generators in 2014, and a landfill ban on food scraps was instituted for all businesses and residents in 2020.
- Seattle, where a ban on putting food waste in the garbage began in 2015.
Laws restricting the disposal of food scraps can also be found on the books in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in cities like New York City, Austin, Portland and San Francisco — and the trend is growing.
4 top reasons to support organics recycling
There are a number of important reasons why both households and businesses should make efforts to separate food scraps from the solid waste stream and divert them away from landfills. Consider these four leading reasons among them:
- It helps the environment — When confined in a landfill, food waste slowly decomposes anaerobically to produce methane — a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming at more than 80 times the rate of carbon dioxide over its first two decades in the atmosphere. Diversion of food scraps away from landfills can help prevent this from happening.
- It conserves landfill space — According to statistics, the average U.S. household produces nearly 20 metric tons of food waste each year — one of the highest average annual volumes worldwide. Further, food waste represents over 20% of the nation’s municipal solid waste stream. Separating organics from the waste stream in households and businesses can keep food waste from ever reaching the landfill, eliminating a substantial contributor to landfill contents.
- It aids in resource recovery — Food scraps are filled with critical nutrients that — when added to the soil via composting rather than contributing to the waste stream — can help plants, gardens and farms thrive. In addition, food scraps can be converted to biogas via anaerobic digestion, a biological process that microorganisms employ to break down biodegradable material in oxygen-free environments. In turn, this biogas can be captured and used to generate electricity, heat, renewable natural gas and other valuable fuels.
- It helps prevent odors — When thrown away in the trash can, food scraps are among the largest contributors to garbage-related odors in households and businesses. And by diverting food waste out of the waste stream, the scrap-free garbage is typically much cleaner and less smelly.
Tough-and-ready tools for organics collection
Of course, to do their part in supporting organics recycling, households and businesses must separate their food scraps and other organic waste materials from the main waste stream and put them into receptacles other than the trash can. And Toter, North America’s leading producer of waste and recycling carts, offers a range of highly functional and sturdy solutions that are ideal for organics collection.
Among the leading Toter options for organics-recycling purposes:
Toter Organics Bins: Built to last and made with durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE), Toter’s Organics Bins make it easy to collect and transport organics materials from a home or business. The dishwasher-safe 2-gallon bin features top and bottom hand grips for easy dumping, a snap-tight lid, a wall-mountable design and a locking seal to prevent odors. The 13-gallon bin offers large handles and heavy-duty wheels for easy transport to the curb, and it features a latch and animal lock to keep scavengers out. Both sizes also offer customization options such as custom colors, custom logo imprinting, and custom lid options including solid lid, vented lid and lid-hole.
Toter Slimline: Designed with the food-service environment in mind, Toter’s Slimline containers are built to withstand extreme situations and extended service — indoors or outdoors. These durable containers are available in two sizes with six lid choices, and their helpful features include integrated handles for easy carrying and transport, venting channels for simplified bag removal, thick drag strips for increased durability, and bottom handles that are molded in for easier dumping.
ConFab: ConFab’s high-quality, durable Organics Collection Container combines the strength of steel with the flexibility of plastic. Built with the purpose to help keep organics like food scraps and yard waste out of landfills, these environmentally friendly containers are tough, capable and up to the challenge. The flexible plastic bin liner, quick release caster plates, 6” rubber swivel casters, and impact plastic organics lid make it an incredibly dependable organics collection solution. Plus, it’s available in sizes from 1-3 yards and a variety of colors, so it’s got the versatility to fit the needs of any setting.
For more information on all of Toter’s industry-leading offerings, visit www.toter.com
Toter is the leading provider of waste and recycling carts to waste haulers and municipalities in North America. Additional products include specialty carts for document management, electronic waste, organics, medical waste and more. Manufactured using Advanced Rotational Molding, Toter carts offer a greater service life than injection-molded carts. Toter is also the only commercial-grade cart available to consumers at retailers nationwide. Toter is a division of Wastequip. Learn more on the web at www.toter.com.
Wastequip is the leading North American manufacturer of waste handling equipment, with an international network of manufacturing facilities and the most extensive dealer network in the industry. Wastequip’s broad range of waste and recycling equipment, trucks and systems is used to collect, process and transport recyclables, solid waste, liquid waste and organics. The company’s brands include Amrep®, Accurate™, ConFab®, ContainerPros®, Galbreath®, Mountain Tarp®, Pioneer™, Toter®, Wastebuilt®, Wastequip®, Wastequip WRX™ and wasteware™. For more information, visit www.wastequip.com.