Food waste is a big problem in the United States. And the problem is often exacerbated by negligent practices, particularly in restaurants. One employee of a composting company recently took to Reddit to complain about one of the frustrating aspects of their job.
“I work for a composting company and this bin is from one of the participating restaurants,” the poster wrote, sharing with the other members of the r/mildlyinfuriating subreddit. “The lid states: ‘food waste only.’”
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The accompanying photo shows a garbage can full of empty oyster and mussel shells, wine bottles, aluminum cans, and paper receipts.
Shellfish shells actually are compostable — and they can be surprisingly beneficial to your garden. “Oyster shells are composed of primarily calcium carbonate (aka chalk), which can help buffer soil acidity and provide plants and microbes with vital calcium,” writes Shellfish Broker. “Plus, the texture of the oyster shell helps prevent soil compaction which can improve aeration.”
However, glass, aluminum, and paper definitely are not compostable, and the fact that they were thrown into the “food waste only” bin undercuts the reason why this restaurant is working with a composting company in the first place.
According to nonprofit Feeding America, 119 billion pounds of food, or nearly 40% of the entire American food supply, ends up getting sent to a landfill. There, it releases gases as it breaks down that contribute to the overheating of our planet.
While the best thing to do with excess food is to get it into the mouths of people who need it — such as the 13 million children facing food insecurity in the United States — a good second option for food scraps or food that is no longer safe for consumption is to turn it into compost so that it doesn’t go completely to waste.
So, just as it is important to make sure that our recyclables end up in the correct bin, it is also important to make sure that our food waste is going to the right place. In the case of this restaurant, it appears that neither of those things is happening.
“People are monsters,” responded one commenter.
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