Saving the Earth by recovering food

Every April, the world comes together to celebrate Earth Day by taking part in doing something to reduce their environmental footprint. For one organization at the University of Northern Iowa, it’s just another day because the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at Business and Community Services focuses on waste reduction and pollution prevention throughout the entire year. And while most efforts work with Iowa small businesses, one particular issue spans almost all industries, businesses of all sizes and even the general public - food waste.

CompostingEach year, Americans send almost 1/3 of the food supply to the landfill – that's 133 billion pounds. It not only affects our food supply, but also accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane emissions that come from the landfill. The Iowa Food Waste Reduction Project started out as a small project through state funding four years ago, but has grown to become one of the IWRC’s primary areas of focus.

The IWRC has taken a strong role in working with Iowans to reduce the amount of food we’re wasting through:

  • Composting Education - With a certified composting expert on hand, the IWRC works with businesses as well as schools to start and troubleshoot compost operations.

  • Iowa Food Waste Stakeholder Coalition - In 2015, the IWRC led the charge to bring together stakeholders from all focuses of food waste in order to develop comprehensive strategies at a statewide level.

  • Workshops and Events - Many events have been held over the past few years from local workshops to a one-day compost training event. Of particular note is an upcoming event for fall 2017 - the Midwest Food Recovery Summit. It will be the first regional event in the Midwest solely focused on food recovery.

  • Collaboration with Other Organizations - Staff often work with other organizations throughout the state such as the U.S. Composting Council, the Iowa Food Bank Association and the Quad Cities Food Rescue Partnership to advocate and advance food recovery.

Through these initiatives, the IWRC hopes to boost Iowa to becoming the nation’s leader in food recovery by ensuring food remains the resource it is, rather than a waste.

Did You Know?

The IWRC has simplified the regulatory aspects of food recovery by creating summaries that easily detail requirements.