In Bend, many restaurants, coffee shops, food carts and breweries voluntarily compost food waste to share with local farms or companies that make fertilizer. Compost turns organic material into a soil conditioner that improves soil fertility, aeration and the soil's water-holding capacity.
Composting helps each restaurant significantly reduce the garbage it produces each day. The Environmental Protection Agency calculates 35 million tons of food go to municipal landfills annually, representing 21 percent of landfill contents. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture estimates 31 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted (a value of $162 billion). The USDA and EPA joined forces in 2013 to create the Food Waste Challenge to share information about how to reduce, recover and recycle food loss and waste.
Restaurants in the Old Mill District are ahead of the curve. They began a collaborative composting program six years ago. As food is prepped, for example, the scraps and peels go directly into a compost bucket that gets emptied into a larger outside bin, collected by a local community supported agriculture farm (CSA).
In Deschutes County, the Rethink Waste program provides a composting how-to flyer online with information for individuals and commercial restaurants.
Bend Garbage & Recycling offers food waste collection service to commercial customers in Bend, helping restaurants reduce their waste, and keeping organic waste out of the landfill. Outside of downtown Bend, Cascade Disposal and High Country Disposal (serving towns such as Redmond, Sisters and Terrebone), are other local businesses that pick up compost.
To learn more about zero waste, visit envirocenter.org.