Tag Archives: food waste

Group aims to tackle Sonoma County food waste

Christi Warren, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

To add an emergency food provider to the directory, click here. Interested in more information about getting involved with the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition? A panel and screening of the film “Just Eat It” will be held at Healdsburg SHED, 25 North St., 6-8 p.m., Sept. 14.

In Sonoma County, about 45,500 tons of food waste go into the landfill each year.A group of local nonprofits is aiming to change that by diverting it instead into the hands and homes of the estimated 82,000 people who go hungry each month in Sonoma County.

Called the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition, the group is at work on a mapping tool to help the public reduce its food footprint. It will allow someone to punch in their ZIP code to find the nearest drop-off spot accepting whatever they’re trying to donate, whether prepared food, unsold farm stand produce or excess apples from a family’s backyard tree.

“That, for me, is like the 2.0 iteration of food recovery and food waste prevention,” said Suzi Grady, program director for Petaluma Bounty and a founding member of the coalition.

Many producers across the North Bay already have such relationships with emergency food providers, Grady said, like when Petaluma’s Della Fattoria has leftover bread, or San Rafael’s Wild West Ferments accidentally orders too much cabbage.

“So we’ll go pick that up and distribute it to an emergency food provider,” Grady said.

The newest effort is a way to simplify that process and make it easier for small producers — even private citizens — to connect to the food recovery movement, broadening the supply chain for emergency food providers across the North Bay. Private donations are covered by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, which excludes donor liability except in cases of gross negligence.

Read more at: Group aims to tackle Sonoma County food waste | The Press Democrat –

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Petaluma to turn sewage into truck fuel 

Eric Gneckow, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

Using the latest technology costing millions of dollars, Petaluma will soon be turning to a new source of fuel for powering its fleet of garbage trucks — your toilet.

The California Energy Commission announced this month it was awarding Petaluma $3 million to build a natural gas collection and automotive fueling station at the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, part of an overall $15 million expansion expected for completion in 2018.

The broader work will increase capacity while allowing the plant to take high-strength waste from local industry, creating a scale that Petaluma Environmental Services Manager Leah Walker said was sufficient to process solid waste from city residents and businesses into the foreseeable future.

The project will allow Ellis Creek to keep pace with the massive growth in local breweries, dairy processors and others — companies that generally truck their high-strength waste elsewhere for treatment. Shortening those trips will lower greenhouse gas emissions, as will the eventual switch from most of Petaluma’s diesel-powered garbage trucks to those running on biologically derived natural gas.

Read more at: Petaluma to turn sewage into truck fuel | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, Transportation

Sonoma County supervisors vote to extend compost agency

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County supervisors have voted to extend the beleaguered Sonoma County Waste Management Agency until officials can hammer out a deal to return composting to a local facility and settle a high-profile lawsuit challenging the planned future compost site at the Central Landfill.

The agency, which oversees the county’s multimillion dollar composting operation, will dissolve next February unless representatives from Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and Rohnert Park approve a one-year extension until February 2018. The county and the remaining six cities already have voted in favor of extending the agency operations, which include education programs and collection of yard waste, food scraps and hazardous materials.

Santa Rosa and Healdsburg will take up the matter this month. Rohnert Park voted in January against an extension, but city officials could take up the issue again. Meanwhile, officials said they hope to resolve some points of contention.

“We think we can get the fundamental issues resolved before the sunset date,” said Don Schwartz, Rohnert Park’s assistant city manager, who represents the city on the agency’s board.

The agency has been under fire in recent years for what some county and city officials contend is an inefficient organization plagued with prolonged legal troubles. At issue is construction and operation of a new $55 million compost facility at the Central Landfill on Mecham Road west of Cotati. Sonoma Compost Co., a private company and the county’s former dominant compost provider, was forced to close in October by a settlement of a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit brought by a group of neighbors who live near the landfill. The settlement cost ratepayers more than $1.1 million.

Since the closure, ratepayers have seen increases of about $4 on their monthly garbage bills to pay for the costs of hauling organic matter out of the county, said Patrick Carter, the agency’s interim director.

“We are desperate to bring compost back to Sonoma County — our farmers need it, and outhauling all that waste is not a good economic or environmental solution,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, the county’s representative on the 10-member board of directors for the agency. “The question is how do we build a state-of-the-art facility without being subject to lawsuit after lawsuit.”

Read more at: Sonoma County supervisors vote to extend compost agency | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, Sustainable Living

Food scraps now OK in Sonoma County yard waste bins

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Under a little-recognized shift in rules at Sonoma County’s Waste Management Agency, households are now allowed to throw all food scraps into the green bin, including meat, bones and dairy products.

Rules were changed last July, when the agency started hauling yard waste and food scraps to compost facilities outside Sonoma County, but agency officials did not inform the public. Since the closure of Sonoma Compost Co. last October, the agency has been trucking all yard and food waste to compost facilities in Novato, Ukiah and Vacaville.

“We didn’t tell everyone right away because we wanted to make sure what we were taking to the other sites was acceptable to them,” said Patrick Carter, interim executive director for the agency. “We wanted to make sure there was enough capacity, and we didn’t want to cause rates to go up.”

Ratepayers have already seen higher bills this year. Rates have risen roughly $4 per month since October, Carter said.It costs about $4.5 million to truck organic waste out of county, up from $2 million when it was handled at the Central Landfill west of Cotati.

Waste accepted for compost includes produce, pasta and bread, eggshells, meat and bones, cheese, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, grass clippings and leaves and paper plates and napkins.

Read more at: Food scraps now OK in Sonoma County yard | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Santa Rosa expands ability to treat grease, food waste at sewer plant

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A massive crane lifted the last of four large silver tanks into place at Santa Rosa’s wastewater treatment plant last week, a major milestone in the city’s $3 million effort to turn tough-to-treat waste into energy and save local businesses money in the process.

The new equipment at the city’s Llano Road plant isn’t much to look at. The four 10,000-gallon tanks sitting on a concrete pad are not unlike the steel tanks found in typical breweries and wineries in the area.

But when they go into operation in April, the towering cauldrons will contain a far more potent brew — thousands of gallons of stuff typically too nasty to send down the sewers, including fats, oils, grease, food waste and slaughterhouse slime.

Currently, those and other high-strength wastes are trucked from North Coast restaurants, wineries, breweries and food producers to Oakland, where they are turned into energy at the treatment facilities at the massive East Bay Municipal Utility District.

But by building its own high-strength receiving and storage station, Santa Rosa hopes to treat that waste locally, turn it into biogas to keep the plant’s power costs down, and save local businesses significant transportation costs.

Read more at: Santa Rosa expands ability to treat grease, food | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Hey Mr. Green, should I care how far my food travels?

Bob Schildgen, SIERRA

Hey Mr. Green,

I hear that agriculture and food transportation take a whopping amount of energy, and therefore contribute to global warming. If so, what can we do about it?

–Janet in Jacksonville, Florida

Locavores complain that agribusiness burns way too much energy. Growing food, however, takes less of the total U.S. energy budget–about 2 percent–than processing and packaging it. And surprisingly, given all the fretting about food miles, food transportation requires only 0.5 percent of our total energy, and half that much comes not from big rigs barreling down the interstate but from shoppers driving to and from stores and restaurants. A car on a four-mile round-trip to fetch 50 pounds of groceries uses 300 times more fuel per pound per mile than a semi does.

Increased reliance on fast foods and commercially prepared meals adds to food-related energy use, because it requires more transportation and replaces manual labor with machines. But the biggest food-related energy drain is in your own home: Refrigeration, cooking, dishwashing, and disposal consume a third of the energy in the food system.

Here’s how to reduce your dinner’s energy content: (1) cut down on heavily processed, excessively packaged food and get back to basics, which will help farmers (who once received nearly 50 cents of every food dollar and now get only 17 cents, thanks to the increased share taken by processors, packagers, and marketers); (2) bike, walk, carpool, or take public transit to food stores; (3) avoid fast foods and eat out less; (4) get efficient Energy Star-approved appliances; (5) grow your own produce if possible; and (6) do like Grandma said: Clean your plate and don’t waste so dern much. Annually, 34 million tons of food waste ends up in dumps, creating the greenhouse gas methane and wasting the energy it took to produce it. –Bob Schildgen

via Hey Mr. Green, Should I Care How Far My Food Travels? | Sierra Club.

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living, Transportation

CropMobster shares the harvest

Rachel Dovey, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

http://www.cropmobster.com/

Nick Papadopoulos is a farmer now, but he has a professional background in conflict resolution. So, standing in a vegetable cooler on a Saturday night last March, surrounded by surplus produce that hadnt been sold, his mind began to wander.

"We had all this food that wasnt going to people," the general manager of Bloomfield Farms in Petaluma recalls. "Its edible and its grown for the purpose of feeding people, and we dont make any money when its wasted."

Later that week, he posted a message on Facebook advertising farmers market leftovers at a reduced price. That was the beginning of CropMobster.com, a social media hub addressing local farm waste and hunger—both issues hinging on a centralized, assembly-line food system that, according to Papadopoulos, is full of holes.

via Harvest Share | Dining | North Bay Bohemian.

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living