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We’ve developed this Hierarchy to Reduce Waste & Grow Community in order to highlight the importance of locally based composting solutions as a first priority over large-scale regional solutions. Composting can be small scale and large scale and everything in between but too often home composting, onsite composting, community scale composting, and on-farm composting are overlooked. Anaerobic digestion systems come in different sizes as well. This new hierarchy addresses issues of scale and community benefits when considering what strategies and infrastructure to pursue for food waste reduction and recovery.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has long been a strong advocate of food waste recovery. Its Food Waste Reduction Hierarchy has been widely disseminated and even written into local law. Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, for instance, has made it the policy of that state. More recently, in 2015, EPA joined with the US Department of Agriculture, in establishing the first ever domestic goal to reduce food loss and waste by half by the year 2030. The agency’s hierarchy remains an important guideline for how this goal is to be met: prevent food waste, feed hungry people, feed animals, and recover via industrial uses and anaerobic digestion. However, in the EPA’s hierarchy, composting is listed just before disposal via landfilling and incineration. We believe size matters.
ILSR supports the development of a diverse and distributed food waste reduction and recovery infrastructure. We hope local and state governments will consider using our hierarchy as a policy framework. We welcome comments and suggestions.
Download a pdf of the Hierarchy to Reduce Waste & Grow Community: ILSR Food Waste Hierarchy v2.
We want you to be able to share this graphic under creative commons license, free of cost. But please, make sure to let people know they should link to: https://ilsr.org/food-waste-hierarchy/ to see the original content.
If you’re publishing on your website, or in one of your publications, please include this sentence:
“The following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen local economies, and redirect waste into local recycling, composting, and reuse industries. It is reprinted here with permission.”