The Michigan Recycling Coalition’s annual conference last week in Kalamazoo featured content about composting and anaerobic digestion, including a keynote presentation from BPI’s Executive Director, Rhodes Yepsen, about connecting the dots between food waste and compostable packaging. Speaking to a packed house, Yepsen provided an overview of the problem (high volumes of food wasted each year, causing environmental and economic harm), on both the National and Michigan level, and then shared some success stories from the state of Michigan.
Dozens of diversion programs already exist in Michigan, such as HopCat, a multi-unit concept that is able to achieve 85-93% diversion at its 15 restaurant locations that are composting back of house and front of house organics using all compostable food service products. Without composting, they would only be at 60-65% diversion!
Significant discussion at the conference was dedicated to upcoming legislation that could dramatically change the recycling and composting landscape, such as rewriting Part 115, the state’s solid waste rules, and SB 943, which would increase the landfill surcharges from $0.36/ton (the lowest in the region) to $4.44/ton. While this would only cost the average MI household $0.37/month, it would bring in $74 million annually to support recycling and composting initiatives.
BPI plans to continue building collaborations with state groups like MRC, to provide useful information and offer support on food waste diversion programs and compostable packaging. Besides MRC, BPI participated in a well-attended workshop with the MN Composting Council in 2016, and will be meeting with the Colorado Composting Council this July about partnerships.