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Bowling Green taking a bite out of food waste that ends up in the landfill

The city started a food waste drop of program last year. In addition to food items, greasy pizza boxes, napkins, and paper towels are also accepted at the site.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Editor's note: The above story aired on July 6, 2021.

The city of Bowling Green is hoping to shrink the amount of unnecessary garbage that ends up in the landfill by making it easy for residents to recycle their food waste.

The city’s Food Waste Drop Off program began last spring in partnership with GoZERO Services.

It’s proven to be an enormous success so far and the city wants to continue the positive results.

Bowling Green's Sustainability & Public Outreach Coordinator Amanda Gamby said within a week of starting it up, the city quickly had to increase the amount of containers needed to collect the food waste.

Drop off sites with 64-gallon containers are located behind the Public Works garage, near the public Yard Waste Drop Off, on Tarragon Drive.

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"A lot of folks have adjusted their purchasing habits," said Gamby, "and even their eating habits to try and accommodate or reduce what their carting over to that drop off."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in 2018 alone, more than 63 million tons of food were wasted, and about 40% of that came from households.

Since about a quarter of landfill waste is organics, the city's goal is waste diversion to help reduce the amount of food sent to the landfill.

Gamby says they believe the city will collect on average about 25 tons a year in food waste per year.

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“We want to get as much garbage as we can out of trashcans and into some form of recycling,” said Gamby. “On the flip-side of that, it's important for us to reduce the amount of waste that we're creating to begin with."

The list of accepted waste includes: baked goods and pasta, beans and eggs, fats and sugars, fruits and veggies, Greasy pizza boxes, paper towels and napkins (unlined paper items), raw/cooked meat, bones and dairy.

Items that are not accepted include: electronics, healthcare products, pet waste, plastic bags, stone, glass, and metal, Styrofoam, traditional plastics, and plastic bags.
All waste collected will be taken to a certified facility and composted.

Gamby calls it is a long-term commitment for the city, at least for the foreseeable future.

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