You might think it’s odd that a company dedicated to recycling paper, cardboard, and electronics would dedicate space on its blog to food waste. But the waste landscape is large, and as consumers we care about all forms of it.
A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council indicated that 40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten. We throw out $165 billion of food each year. This uneaten food ends up in landfills. It’s the largest component of municipal solid waste in the U.S., accounting for a large portion of our methane emissions.
On a brighter note, if we reduce food loss by a mere 15% we would be able to feed more than 25 million Americans each year. With one of every six people lacking a secure supply of food, we could make a big difference in many lives.
According to what we’ve read, one of the issues in our backyard is the ugly factor. Last fall Chicago Tribune reporter Bill Daley wrote that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates some 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s food supply is going to waste. Apparently, we don’t like fruits and vegetables with dents, discoloration, and other imperfections.
The good news: there’s a company called Imperfect, launched a few years ago, that’s focused on reducing the billions of pounds of wasted produce every year. It was the brainchild of Ben Simon, a college student who was bothered by how much food was going to waste in the cafeteria. He established the Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing waste on college campuses. During this time he met another student, Ben Chesler, who shared his vision and, together, they scaled the organization nationwide. The co-founders eventually realized they could make a much bigger impact if they sourced ugly produce directly from farms and delivered it at a discount to customers. And they have: as of the writing of this post, they’ve saved 19 million pounds of produce from going to waste. (Read more about Ben Simon and Ben Chesler’s company here.)
They aren’t alone in their efforts, either. After Trader Joe’s former president Doug Rauch left the company in 2008, he turned his attention to addressing the hunger crisis in the U.S. In 2012, he founded Daily Table, a not-for-profit retail store that sells produce, meat and prepared meals that otherwise would go to waste because it’s nearing its expiration date and traditional grocery stores don’t consider it suitable to sell. Doug’s company works with a large network of growers, supermarkets, and other suppliers who donate their excess healthy food or provide them with special buying opportunities. Today they have two locations with plans to open additional stores in cities across the country.
Periodically we hear cries of “Don’t print those emails – it’s a waste of paper!” When we hear this comment, we like to explain the bigger picture of “waste” in our world, especially in comparison to food waste.
Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. The process of growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of men and women in our country. In addition, working forests are good for the environment; they provide clean air, clean water, a habitat for wildlife and carbon storage.
We are proud to own and manage a business that properly disposes of paper, ultimately sending it off to a paper mill to be recycled for reuse. Each truck of recycled paper we take to the mill can save 374 trees, 8,360 gallons of oil, 66 cubic yards of landfill space, 88,000 kilowatts of energy, and 154,000 gallons of water.
Now that’s food for thought…
Since 1997, Paper Tiger Document Solutions has handled records storage and residential and commercial shredding throughout the Chicago area and northeastern Wisconsin. Whether we provide shredding services at a client’s location in one of our mobile trucks, or we pick up documents and shred them at our facility, we provide a Certificate of Document Destruction.Back to Blog