Sacramento Press: Zero Food Waste

Zero Food Waste

Article from SacramentoPress.com

Amber Stott wrote a wonderful article (published on sacramentopress.com in July 2013) about the efforts of Green Restaurant Alliance Sacramento (Gras) with whom Atlas Disposal have  proudly partnered.

Excerpts from the article appear below:

Imagine a local food system that produces zero waste. That’s the dream of nonprofit executive David Baker of Green Restaurant Alliance Sacramento, or GRAS. He oversees a nonprofit with the ambitious mission of turning Sacramento into a “ leading sustainable food community” in which restaurants don’t send food waste to landfills.

What began as a project to take unused food from a few restaurants to a farm for composting has turned into something bigger. GRAS calculates that they have diverted 100 tons of material to local farms since they started, and now, with the help of new technology developed locally, they’re expanding the scope and scale of their mission.

The technology is called a “digester,” which is run by the company CleanWorld in Elk Grove just off Fruitridge & Florin Perkins Road. Anyone familiar with backyard compost understands the long-term process of turning food scraps into soil, and the limitations of compost. For instance, you can’t throw chicken bones into compost or you’ll attract varmints. With the digester, bones, meat, kitchen scraps, cardboard packing material and anything organic suddenly becomes fair game – bringing the concept of a zero waste food system closer to reality. Instead of producing soil, the digester produces gas capable of fueling vehicles – yet another step closer to Baker’s dream of a cleaner planet.

In 2009, he began partnering with restaurants, farms and the waste disposal company, Atlas Disposal Industries, to create a pilot project to divert restaurant food scraps from the landfill.

“This is farm to fork and back to farm,” Baker said.

Through the pilot, GRAS collected restaurant “pre-consumer food scraps”, which are food scraps leftover from kitchen prep, such as carrot tops, avocado peels, etc. Among the restaurants participating in the program were Hot Italian, Mulvaney’s and Selland’s. Atlas Disposal made weekly pickups to these restaurants, and when the pilot first began, they brought everything to Del Rio Botanical farm to be turned into compost.

“That we turn food waste into compost for soil mix is admirable,” says Suzanne Peabody Ashworth, owner of Del Rio Botanical.

Today, the pilot has become a successful program. GRAS calculates that they have diverted 100 tons of material to local farms since they started, and they’re now expanding to higher impact projects.

The complete article can be found here.