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Food scraps, worms to create value from landfill-bound waste

(As part of Food Waste Prevention Week, today's MI Environment story looks at the issue of using food scraps to create value-added products for gardeners and farmers.)

Food waste collection bucketBay City residents now have a pilot food waste collection program available to them that will turn food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil enhancer.

Thanks to a $194,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Iris Waste Diversion Specialists of Birch Run will collect vegetable and fruit scraps in five-gallon buckets from the porch of subscribers using a Ford e-Transit van. The food scraps will be delivered to 5Heart Earthworm Farm where they will be processed to produce worm castings, a natural soil enhancer. Participants in the program will receive a bucket of worm castings for use in their gardens or they can designate it for use by the City of Bay City Parks Department.

"Iris Waste Diversion Specialists is offering this hyperlocal service in partnership with the City of Bay City that will collect food scraps in a zero-emission vehicle, deliver them to be processed using low-emission methods, to produce a product that will be returned to the soil where it will capture carbon to the benefit of all life on earth," says Tracy Purrenhage, a recycling specialist with EGLE.

"The program goals include increasing collection and processing capacity of recyclable food waste and increasing access to food waste composting programs, while supporting the Governor's climate change priorities through measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Reducing food waste and keeping it out of landfills is something we can all do to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to a warming climate. This program will provide a convenient way for residents to more responsibly manage their food scraps and reap the benefits of their efforts. They make an impact when diverting their food scraps from the landfill and when they use the worm castings to build healthier soil that helps remove and store carbon."

The collection is a subscription program that will serve 200 households during the 9-month pilot project.  Food scraps will be picked-up weekly at a cost of $20 per month.  Subscribers can also drop-off their food scraps at the Bay City Recycles Center.

Caption: Food waste collection bucket.

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