The City of Eugene has been named the winner of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Excellence Award in the Communication category. The City of Eugene earned the silver level award for its entry the “Love Food Not Waste Commercial Compost Program.”
Each year, the City of Eugene sends more than 40 million pounds of food waste into the local landfill. Half of this waste comes from commercial businesses. To reduce the amount of food waste being landfilled, the city collaborates with local garbage haulers, commercial composters and businesses to run “Love Food Not Waste (LFNW)”. After a year and a half, more than 115 participating local businesses have diverted more than 1,600 tons of food waste. The program boasts open access tools and strategies that allow other communities to replicate the program to fit their needs. LFNW has already been adopted by other communities including Beaverton, Oregon and Sacramento, California.
“We are really pleased with the number of businesses that are signing up for the LFNW program each month,” said Stephanie Scafa, the Zero Waste Analyst at the City of Eugene. “It is so rewarding to assist Eugene businesses by providing them with employee trainings knowing we are helping them save money, keep waste out of the landfill, and bring their food waste back full circle.”
The program provides training and materials to businesses, and the discounted rates for commercial food waste allow them to break even or save money. Chris Worrell, Director of Restaurant Services at SweetWaters on the River at Valley River Inn says, “We just started the [compost] program and have already seen a $900 decrease in our trash bill. Our employees are really getting behind this initiative – we love it!”
This spring, Eugene’s commercial food waste came full circle, and bagged compost made from the local food scraps is now available for purchase at Rexius Forest By Products (150 Highway 99), Market of Choice (67 West 29th Avenue), and the City of Eugene Atrium Building (99 West 10th Avenue).
SWANA’s Excellence Awards Program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management through their commitment to utilizing effective technologies and processes in system design and operations, advancing worker and community health and safety, and implementing successful public education and outreach programs. Programs also must demonstrate that they are fiscally and environmentally responsible through their compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.