Commercial Food Waste and Composting

Donate edible food
Edible food can be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Mateo County. Second Harvest collects surplus food from restaurants, caterers, corporate cafeterias, wholesalers and retailers and distributes it to soup kitchens and shelters. To protect food donors, all 50 States and the District of Columbia have enacted "Good Samaritan" laws that specifically address food donations. In October 1996, President Clinton signed The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal law that promotes food recovery and gleaning. This legislation provides liability protection for businesses and organizations donating food in good faith to nonprofit organizations. The state of California has also created legislation to protect food donors from liability. One of these laws is California Civil Code 1714.25 and another is California Health and Safety Code 114433.

Contact Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties  at: (650) 610–0800. Donations may be made to other local nonprofits; look under the heading Food in the ReUse Guide.

Landscape waste
Landscape waste is fully recyclable if it's kept separate from other garbage. Do you know what happens to your landscape waste? Talk to your gardener. If they haul away the waste and keep it separate they receive a 25% discount on their disposal fees. In some cities, a separate collection of greenwaste is available at reduced rates. Contact your hauler and request a separate bin for greenwaste, and you can lower your garbage bill.

Leaving grass clippings on the lawn can be beneficial for the turf while reducing waste at the same time. If your property has lawns, consider investing in a mulching mower. In addition to returning nutrients to the soil, many parks buy grasscycling mowers because of their safety features.

In–vessel composting
This type of composting focuses on implementing small–scale composting systems at the location where the food waste is generated. Typically, the composting process takes place entirely within an enclosed container, which helps control both the composting process and prevents odor issues. A variety of companies, including Green Mountain Technologies, Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Inc. and Wright Environmental make in–vessel composting equipment. Biocycle Magazine, a composting industry periodical, had an informative article, "On–site Composting Options," in the March 2000 issue that compares various in–vessel composting systems. The types of systems on the market vary in technological complexity and capacity, and hence cost.

There are some real–world examples of the use of in–vessel food waste composting in the Bay Area:

  1. Sonoma County ran a pilot where in–vessel composting equipment was tested at several generator sites.
  2. City Organics in Sunnyvale has purchased in–vessel composting equipment that will be used for food waste from its catering operations and from neighboring businesses.

Equipment types
The following are examples of different in–vessel composting systems:

Green Mt. TechnologiesEPM, Inc.

Wright Environmental