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Food recycling mandated in San Francisco. How can you reduce food waste?

With an eye toward the ambitious goal of zero waste by the year 2020, the city of San Francisco has enacted an unprecedented food-recycling mandate. Restaurants, businesses and residents are required to separate food waste from other trash. The special food bins are picked up by city workers, who then compost the waste.The diversion of food waste is a huge cost saver for the city, whose garbage stream is already drastically cut by previous packaging-recycling efforts.

In an interview with NPR, the city’s environmental officer, Jared Blumenfeld, said composting food scraps is “probably the single most effective thing you can do as a citizen in the United States today” to curb climate change. He went on to say, “This is putting some food scraps into a different pile and then turning it into compost. If we can’t do that, then I really worry about our ability to do some of those more complex things.”

A book released last Monday highlights the need for such programs. Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal examines the tremendous amount of usable food products that are allowed to rot or simply thrown away on a daily basis, as well as solutions to this global problem. Read reviews and purchase the book at Amazon.

Find out how your restaurant or residence can start its own composting effort, listen to the NPR story and read more about the San Francisco law here.

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