Learning from what’s in the can

Ohio State student employees are digging through garbage cans full of thrown-away food — messy, sloppy, smelly, tossed food — in the name of sustainability. They’re helping with food waste audits being done to help the university try to meet one of its sustainability goals: diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025. Read the full story.

In the meantime, researchers will share results from the audits at Ohio State’s Oct. 11 Food Waste Collaborative Conference, which CFAES is sponsoring. Glean further details on the conference’s website, including a link to register.

If buried in a landfill, discarded food rots and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Limiting landfilled food waste reduces that methane production and in turn helps slow human-caused climate change.

He’s working to help all of us cut food waste

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they waste so much food at restaurants and supermarkets. I’ve seen the dumpsters at the back of the stores. It’s terrible.’ In truth, it’s consumers in households where most of the food waste occurs.” So says Brian Roe, pictured, professor in CFAES’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, who studies food waste and how to reduce it and leads the Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative.

Keep reading on CFAES’s Stories website.

Turning food waste into tires

Tomorrow’s tires could come from the farm as much as the factory.

CFAES scientists have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century.

In tests, rubber made with the new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.

Read the story. (Photo: CFAES scientists Katrina Cornish (left) and Cindy Barrera by Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

The challenge? Do both: Waste less food, AND compost what’s wasted

Two key ways to manage food waste — educating people about it and composting it — seem to work at odds, Marion Renault wrote last week in the Columbus Dispatch, reporting on research by CFAES’s Danyi Qi and Brian Roe.

That is, the researchers found, people will waste more food if they know it will be composted — by, say, the restaurant that served it. But they’ll waste less if they know about such issues as filled-up landfills and the harmful methane dumped food waste puts in the air.

The challenge, Qi said in the story, is to get the two methods — education and composting — working not in conflict but in harmony. Read the story.

You gonna eat that? Farmer-friendly ways to fight food waste: OEFFA conference preview

Food waste continues to be in the news, and a panel discussion at the Feb. 9-11 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association annual conference will feature how farmers are fighting it.

Abbe Turner of Kent’s Lucky Penny Farm will share how she cuts food waste via animal feed and composting.

Max Slater of St. Stephen’s Community House in Columbus will discuss using the operation’s EPA Class II composting facility to process spoiled food.

Sabrina Schirtzinger of OSU Extension, CFAES’s outreach arm, will describe the successful gleaning program she helped start in Knox County.

Go to “Farmer-Friendly Approaches to Combating Food Waste,” Session IV, 8:30-10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 11. Complete conference schedule.

Registration open for course on large-scale composting

Compost course coming in MarchKeep organic material such as yard waste, food waste and manure out of landfills. Compost it instead. So says CFAES scientist Fred Michel, who is co-organizer of a course next month on doing just that — big time. Read the story. Course details and registration form here (PDF). (Photo: iStock.)

Course on large-scale composting March 29-30

OSU will host a workshop later this month on the science, art, and business of large-scale composting. The Ohio Compost Operator Education Course takes place March 29-30 at OARDC in Wooster. It’s an intensive program for compost facility operators and managers, public health officials, municipal solid waste managers, and other professionals. “This type of educational opportunity isn’t available elsewhere in Ohio, and it’s one of the leading programs in the nation,” said Fred Michel, one of the course’s instructors and an OARDC composting researcher. Registration details.