EPA recognizes University of Arizona for diverting food scraps from landfill

Dive Brief:

  • The University of Arizona has received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) award for "outstanding efforts" in food waste recycling and recovery, with students, food service staff, and university leaders working with the Tohono O'odham Nation's San Xavier Co-operative Farm and the City of Tucson to bump food recovery by 1,232% in one year.
  • Branded as 'Compost Cats' and launched by a University of Arizona student group to divert campus food scraps, the program has grown to a tri-institutional partnership that last year recovered scraps in Tucson, southern Arizona, and beyond. 
  • About 10.4 million pounds of wasted food and other materials have been composted in the last five years. The food scraps are used to make a soil amendment to grow food locally.

Dive Insight:

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's administrator for the Pacific Southwest, heralded the zero waste partnership that started on one campus and thanked the participants for their national-scale leadership.

Chet Phillips with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and Compost Cats said food waste is vast in Southern Arizona largely because 2 million tons of produce comes in through the port at Nogales every year — far more than is eaten.

Collectively participants in the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge have diverted 606,000 tons of wasted food from landfills, and re directed almost 90 tons as donations to feed the hungry.  

Filed Under: Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Compost Cats