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SWANA works for waste reduction and diversion at WASTECON

Food waste management a focus at this year's convention

54th Annual WASTECON conference.
54th Annual WASTECON conference.

Food waste has been a hot topic in the solid-waste industry for years, and during WASTECON 2016 in Indianapolis, taking place this week, August 22-25, The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has enacted an extensive Recycling & Recovery Program to make it a highly sustainable event. These actions directly align with the joint goal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.

To make these waste reduction goals at WASTECON a reality, SWANA has partnered with Second Helpings, an Indianapolis-based organization that reclaims food after banquets and distributes it to local homeless shelters and missions. Each year, Second Helpings “rescues” roughly 2.3 million pound of food and prepares about 4,000 meals per day. By doing this, Second Helpings is both reducing food waste and feeding their community.

For food waste that cannot be consumed during one major conference event, the WASTECON recycling committee has pledged to send all remaining food scraps to GreenCycle, an Indianapolis-based organization that uses food waste to produce organic mulches, composts and soil blends.

“SWANA is thrilled to partner with Second Helpings and GreenCycle to provide food to the needy in Indianapolis and divert food waste to other useful products. As industry leaders, it is important for us to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk, when it comes to waste diversion and recycling,” said David Biderman, SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO.

"We are glad to have the opportunity to provide robust recycling as well as a food compost pilot project during WASTECON. Regarding the latter, Indianapolis is primed to grow its infrastructure for food waste composting at major venues that strive for zero waste programs," stated Carey Hamilton, Executive Director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition and Co-chair of the WASTECON Recycling Committee. "This pilot will help demonstrate the viability of zero waste venues in our community," continued Hamilton.

In addition to food waste, SWANA is working with the Indiana Convention Center to ensure that all aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass, cardboard, pallets, paper, and cooking oil are recycled. The Convention Center also uses a line of biodegradable, disposable service ware products, so no paper products will go to waste. The WASTECON Recycling Committee has secured recycling containers from Clear Stream Recycling for attendees to use during the event.

SWANA and its partners are taking action to ensure that WASTECON 2016 is as sustainable and environmentally-friendly as possible. SWANA is excited to use the practices at this event to inspire others to make waste-reduction a priority.

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