Organics (carbon-based materials) currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away. Besides taking up valuable landfill space, organics produce a potent greenhouse gas called methane when landfilled. In fact, organics in landfills account for approximately 20 percent of methane emissions in the United States.
The Department's goal is to reduce the amount of organics entering landfills through the promotion of waste minimization practices, organics reuse, anaerobic digestion and composting throughout the state of Tennessee. Information on how the State will increase the diversion of organics can be found in Objective 4 of the 2015-2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan.
To facilitate the discussion of organics diversion strategies among stakeholders and provide information to Tennessee businesses and citizens about opportunities to reduce food disposal, the Division of Solid Waste Management held a roundtable discussion on October 6, 2016 to engage local state agencies, private business and industry, educational institutions, and non-profits on the opportunities and obstacles to food waste reduction and diversion in middle Tennessee. Information gleaned from this discussion may be used to help tailor future Organics Grant criteria.
Please review the 2016 Food Waste Reduction Policy Paper for a brief summary of research completed by TDEC Offices of Sustainable Practices and Policy and Planning to document current efforts in Southeastern States to address wasted food and food waste reduction upstream of composting. This report identifies recommendations for opportunities for further wasted food and food waste reduction upstream of composting to be pursued for implementation in Tennessee.
The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic recently published a document entitled Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities that has additional ideas for increasing the diversion of organics.