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Preventing Food Waste: PNW a Hotbed for Innovation

From Waste Management to Clean Materials

Photo Courtesy: Oregon Food Bank

By Lisa McCrummen

Director of Marketing and Development

Center for Sustainable Infrastructure

Across the country and in the PNW, food waste is a big problem – food is perhaps the most essential product that we waste on a large scale. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, wasted food represents between 30-40 percent of the food supply. That waste has far reaching impacts. It takes a tremendous amount of resources (land, water and energy) to produce, produce, process, package, transport, store and dispose of it. When food is wasted instead of helping to feed hungry families, for the most part it ends up in landfills where it creates environmental damage by generating harmful methane.

CSI’s new report From Waste Management to Clean Materials offers a vision for the PNW to comprehensively refresh our waste and recycling system including addressing food waste. Ultimately, by adopting this new approach we can do two things together: 1) dramatically shrink the environmental footprint of all the stuff we buy, which eventually becomes waste; and 2) create tens of thousands of Clean Materials jobs -- as we have in Clean Energy -- in communities everywhere in the region. To achieve that animating vision, the report offers a blueprint for the PNW to excel at four ‘Diamond’ solutions: prevent waste at all stages; get longer life and more use from products; optimize recycling; and develop clean production/processing hubs.

The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed for innovative strategies - learn more in this report excerpt including: The Oregon Food Bank's focus to rescue food for people that need it; Portland’s Urban Gleaners broad approach to food collection; the progress already being made by the West Coast Regional Voluntary Food Waste Agreement and other innovative ideas that are already working.

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