Carolina Recycling Association will have its first-ever Food Waste Conference Nov. 12 and 13 at the Hilton Hotel in University Place.
The CRA decided to stage the conference to increase awareness of the growing need for food recycling and reducing food-waste disposal.
“The issue of food waste is a growing one of importance,” said the association’s Scott Mouw. “We see a lot of opportunities to reduce food-waste disposal.”
Various methods of food recycling will be discussed, such as using leftovers to feed those in need and to create animal feed. Composted food also can be beneficial to soil.
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“It really is meant to address and talk about things taking place across the region,” Mouw said. “We haven’t made steps other regions in the country have. We are, in many ways, just starting the process, but we have made some progress.”
Conference topics will cover the collection of food wastes from various sources, and the recycling of those wastes; anaerobic digestion, or the breakdown of food by bacteria that minimizes waste; food rescue and donation; residential food waste; composting; the benefits of food-waste diversion; and the planning of local food-waste programs.
According to Mouw, North Carolina has fallen behind in carrying out innovative plans to reduce food waste. He said he hopes the conference will help start discussions that lead to a stronger effort to reduce food waste and increase food recycling in North Carolina and surrounding states.
“It’s really meant to encourage that and catalyze all of the activities that are already happening, and really make it a mainstream activity in our state,” Mouw said.
He said he also believes that in coming years it will be the norm for restaurants, grocery stores and other establishments to donate leftover food to organizations that help those in need.
“What we really want to do with this conference is plant the seed that we really want to do those kinds of things in the future,” Mouw said.
One goal of the CRA is to focus not only on restaurants and larger organizations but to find a way to reduce residential food waste.
Mouw said he hopes that one day, houses not only will have a trash bin and recycling container but also a place to put leftover food that can be put to another, better use.