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Food Scrap Recycling: Opportunities and Realities

July 2021

Citation: 51 ELR 10543

Issue: 7

Author: Carol A. Jones, Melissa Pennington, Julia Levin, Mark McDannel, and John Hanselman

When food waste decomposes, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas with at least 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Municipalities and organizations are beginning to prioritize diverting food waste from landfills by preventing waste, rerouting edible food to food-insecure households, or recycling waste through composting, animal feeding operations, or anaerobic digestion (AD), a process in which microorganisms break down organic material and create biogas and digestate. On April 8, 2021, the Environmental Law Institute, BioCycle, and the American Biogas Council hosted a panel of experts that explored the opportunities and challenges of developing AD projects to divert food waste and recycle it to create valuable products. Below, we present a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Carol A. Jones (moderator) is a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and Co-lead of ELI’s Food Waste Initiative. Melissa Pennington is a Sustainability Coordinator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Julia Levin is the Executive Director of the Bioenergy Association of California. Mark McDannel is the Manager of Energy Recovery Engineering, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. John Hanselman is the Chief Executive Officer of Vanguard Renewables.

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