In case you missed it: Thoughtful, newsworthy comments from this year's event in Charleston, SC.
"We do have a weird relationship with food. Our forefathers fought and died so that we could have endless buffets in Las Vegas. And I'm not sure that was their intent, but the idea of food security is really fundamental to who we are as people."
—Matt Cotton, principal of Integrated Waste Management Consulting, on the country's excessive dependence on food. However, according to the EPA, food is the single largest waste stream going to disposal every year thanks to many factors (including food buffets).
"One of the things that the EPA is able to do is convene people, bring people to the table. And one of the great things about food is that everyone thinks they know about it, but the horrible thing about food is that everybody thinks they know about it."
– Cheryl Coleman, director of the EPA's Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division, on tackling the EPA and USDA's national food waste reduction goal of 50% by 2030. Their aim is to cut wasted food from 218.9 pounds per person to 109.4 pounds per person.
"To be a stronger, more independent nation, we need to break the link between economic growth and waste generation. Because right now they are linked. It’s linear."
—Allison Yeckel, sales engineer at Westinghouse Plasma, on the importance of the circular economy. In a keynote session titled "Implementing the Paradigm Shift: Transitioning to a Circular Economy in North America," Yeckel explained that it is crucial to reuse waste as a source of energy and other materials.
"We have a zero waste plan in Santa Monica, but my plan is it’s a cultural behavioral change. Let me tell you how hard this is. It’s a cultural behavioral change to reach that zero waste mark, and all of these programs have to go in place—it’s pretty difficult."
—Kim Braun, resource recovery & recycling manager at City of Santa Monica, on the complications associated with reaching a zero waste-to-landfill goal—even in a California city.
"I don’t give free passes to anybody … I know you want me to believe that everything’s wonderful in the Emerald City of green recycling, but I am going to look behind the curtain and make sure that whatever we’re doing is really as good as we say it is, and recognize that all of the ways we manage organics have their pros and cons."
—Pat Sullivan, senior vice president at SCS Engineers, during a session on if organics should or should not be banned from landfills. Sullivan had a strong opinion that, while landfill bans work in some scenarios, each municipality should be able to do what is best for its community.