Food Waste Solutions (2021 Guide)

Before ACT dives into food waste solutions, we need to face an ugly truth that the US alone wastes around 40% of its food supply! That is about 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes into the trash bin. The sad thing is that a lot of this food waste is still safe, edible, healthy, and full of nutrients.

So you might be wondering: why is this food wasted? There are lots of reasons. They could be spoiled due to weather, improper preservation, improper handling, or bad quality of ingredients. Overproduction, instability of markets, overbuying, overstocking, poor food planning, or missing out the expiration date can also be major causes. 

This article further explains the harmful effects of too much food waste, how to lessen food waste, benefits of preventing food waste, and what the government is doing to solve the food waste problem.

Effects of Food Waste to Global Waste

For many people, food waste is just uneaten meals, and they don’t think much about it after scraping it from the plate to the trash bin. However, such waste drains a lot of money. Around $218 billion dollars are lost due to food waste in the US. 

Also, due to health and sanitation regulations enacted by the federal or state governments, hotels and restaurants dispose of foodstuff that are not consumed within a certain period, usually a number of hours, even though they’re still perfectly consumable. Rarely is this food donated to the less privileged out of concern of contamination and legal action.

In addition, food waste causes unnecessary strain on the environment:

It’s therefore important to diminish food wastage. Even a small percentage can make a huge difference. In fact, if Americans are able to reduce food waste by 15%, there would be enough food to feed over 25 million people per year.

According to recent waste management and recycling statistics, the world generates 2 billion tons of waste every year. As the human population increases dramatically over the next few years, scientists project that this number will also increase to more than 3.40 billion tons in 2050. That number is too huge to sustain a healthy and clean environment.

A significant part of this percentage is food waste, considering that people eat each day.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted all over the world each year. Just imagine just how many millions of starving people can be fed with all that food.

Obviously, the increase of food waste also increases the volume of global waste. Worse, food waste severely affects the environment. Here are just some of its environmental effects:

What are the Food Waste Solutions?

The facts and numbers above highlights the need to reduce food waste. The good thing is the steps needed for preventing food going down the trash are actually easy, practical, and doable.

Shop regularly

It has been ingrained that it’s wise to buy food in bulk to save money and lessen fuel consumption. However, buying in bulk may lead to more waste because people tend to buy more than they need.

It’s better to make regular trips to the grocery every few days rather than bulk purchase them once every two weeks. Also, make sure to use or consume all food you purchased during your last grocery trip before going out to buy more groceries.

Make a grocery list

Impulse buying generates lots of food waste because you tend to purchase food items you don’t actually need. To avoid that, list down the items you need to buy then stick to that list. Doing so allows you to not only reduce food waste but to also manage your budget more effectively.

Don’t just choose the perfect-looking produce

Do you spend a lot of time looking for the prettiest or the smoothest, most flawless-looking produce? If so, stop that practice. That’s because whether the food item looks nice or ugly, they often have the same taste and nutritional quality. The ones not selected just because they don’t look visually appealing end up as food waste.

Store food correctly

The labels of most food products contain instructions on how to store them properly. Follow these instructions to ensure food items don’t spoil prematurely. Here’s a guide on how to store food properly as recommended by the FDA.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer clean and uncluttered

Remember the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? This applies particularly to a cluttered and disorganized fridge. That’s because you may be storing food that has or about to be spoiled but you just can’t see it because it’s stuck back in the fridge.

Keep your refrigerator clean and organized so you can clearly see all the food you stored there. A good rule of thumb is to store new food items behind newer ones. In that way, the older food gets used or consumed and not wasted.

Save and use leftovers

Store leftovers in clear glass jars or bowls so you don’t forget them. If you have lots of leftovers, allocate a meal or a date to use up all those leftovers. Also, check out the Internet for recipes that use leftover food as ingredients.

Serve food in healthy amounts

One of the main culprits of food waste is not eating everything in a serving. The uneaten food is then scraped into the trash.

Thus, make sure portion sizes for each person are within healthy range. Not only will this reduce food waste but limiting portions will keep one’s weight down to a healthy level.

Eat the skins of produce and meat

When preparing dishes, people often throw away the skin of vegetables or fruits. But do you know that there are so many nutrients such as fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in the skin of such produce?

In addition, skin from meats such as chicken, fish, or pork is packed with flavor. In some parts of the world, they’re considered the tastiest part of the animal.

Blend leftovers

Food waste such as peels, stems, and ends of fruits and vegetables may not look appetizing. However, if you blend these and sweeten it with honey or sugar, everything changes! These food waste suddenly become a nutritious, delightful, and refreshing smoothie that you can enjoy.

Turn food waste into compost

Composting is a process that breaks down organic substances into simpler compounds that make the soil healthy. You can make your own soil conditioner or fertilizer by composting leftover food. After a few weeks of natural processing, you can then use the compost to fertilize your lawn or garden.

These are just some of the many ways that you can do in which you can reduce food waste.

Food Expiration Guidelines

Food waste endangers the environment and wastes money. Knowing this, everyone—from individual people to business organizations—uses various means to reduce food waste. One of these ways is the labeling and adherence of food expiration dates. Adhering to food expiration dates enable consumers to use the product before it goes to spoilage, thus lessening food waste.

You might get confused with the terminology of expiration dates as labeled on the food packaging. Here’s a useful guide to guide you with the lingo:

“Sell by” date

This date tells the store how long a retailer should display the food product. In other words, you should purchase the product before the “sell by” date. In general, this is a guide for the business selling the product; it helps the establishment determine when to pull out the food product from their shelves.

Note that the “sell by” date is a guide for the quality of the product, not the date of spoilage. It means that the item is at its highest quality of level before the “sell by” date. After the date, it’s still safe to consume although not at its optimal quality.

“Best if used by (or before)” date

This date refers to quality rather than safety. This labeling is intended for customers, as much as the “sell by” date is intended for the seller. The food item is at its best flavor or quality before the “best if used by (or before)” date.

For example, sour cream has a fresher taste before this date. It’s still edible and safe to consume after the date, but you will notice a degradation of quality.

“Guaranteed fresh” date

Often used in bakery items, this date means that the product is still edible after the date. However, it won’t be at its optimal freshness.

“Pack” date

You can often find this date on canned or packaged food. It means that the product was packed on the “pack” date indicated on the label.

“Use by” date

This refers to the last date that the manufacturer recommends or guarantees for using the product while it is at its maximum quality.

“Expires on” date

The food expiration date refers to the last date that a certain food product should be consumed or eaten. If you decide to eat the food after the date, it’s at your own risk.

These dates are useful, but some manufacturers may opt not to put them on the labels. In addition, no dates are indicated due to the way certain food items are sold. For example, if you buy produce, meats, or fish from the farmers market, meat market, or fish market, you’ll get your purchase wrapped in an ordinary plastic or paper bag without any label.

Thus, here’s a basic guide that can help you estimate when the food is safe to eat:

You can see how these dates can help you effectively manage your food supply and consumption. By adhering to these dates, you’re assured of eating safe, fresh, healthy, and high-quality food. Of course, this also prevents overstocking and wastage of food products.

Benefits of Food Waste Prevention

Based on the information presented above, it is quite obvious that we all need to control our food waste in order to protect the environment. Putting in mind a conscious effort not to waste food does wonders to your household.

Now, these same benefits apply to the community, nation, and the world but on a vastly bigger scale. Just imagine everyone being able to save a lot of money, stay healthy, and have clean homes. But more than that, reducing food waste offers several more benefits:

You can see how we—whether individuals or nations—can help not just our own community but the entire planet if we consciously make an effort to curb food waste.

How Can the Government Reduce Food Waste?

As the leading institute of a country, the US government has a crucial role in cutting back food waste. In 2019, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formulated an inter-agency strategy to deal with food waste.

The strategy, which is named “Winning on Reducing Food Waste FY 2019-200 Federal Interstate Strategy,” focuses on six important priority areas which the 3 agencies will work on together. These goals are:

Check out this link for EPA’s guide on sustainable management of food.

In addition, visit this link from the USDA regarding the impact of food waste. It also enumerates suggested actions that farmers, businesses, consumers, schools, organizations, and consumers can do in order to help curb food waste.

Conclusion

Healthy food is what keeps every organism on Earth alive. As humans living on this planet, we have a huge responsibility on ensuring that healthy, good-quality food is available, accessible, sustainably produced, and well managed. By following food waste solutions layed out in this guide, we can achieve this lofty goal of helping our fellowmen and preserving the environment at the same time.

What’s in Your Safety Program?

Accidents and injuries are a risk for all businesses, and everyone can agree that good businesses should protect their employees from foreseeable safety and health hazards. To wit, this is enshrined as a general expectation for all U.S. employers. Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (called the “general duty clause”) requires employers to provide workplaces that are free of recognized hazards, and the requirements for California employers are more explicit. Cal/OSHA regulations (title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 3203 – 8 CCR 3203) require employers to establish, implement and maintain an effective “illness and injury prevention program” (IIPP).

So why do I have to have a Written Safety Plan?
For California businesses, whether big or small, developing an IIPP is a requirement, but a formal safety program makes sense for all businesses, too. For example, companies may adopt voluntary safety plans to increase worker productivity, prepare for special emergencies and enhance workplace security in addition to simply reducing/preventing injuries and illnesses. In addition, a worker injury or accident will cost businesses money. For every dollar spent on employee injuries or illnesses, businesses spend more on associated costs such as lost production time for both the employee and the supervisors, operations interrupted by the accident, etc. The California IIPP has 8 elements that align closely with professional guidance for effective safety programs. These elements are Responsibility, Compliance, Communication, Hazard Assessment, Accident/Exposure Investigation, Hazard Correction, Training, and Instruction and Recordkeeping. All California employers must establish a safety plan consistent with the Cal/OSHA requirements, but an even more robust safety plan is a good business decision for all employers.

What other written safety plans should I have besides having an IIPP?
In addition to the general safety programs, OSHA (and Cal/OSHA) require written safety plans for more than two dozen specific general or construction activities and more than a dozen chemicals listed under Subpart Z of the general industry rules for Toxic and Hazardous Substances, such as asbestos, lead and benzene.

Some activities or safety programs for which OSHA and Cal/OSHA require a written safety plan include:

  • Hazard Communication (T8 §5194, 29 CFR 1910.1200(e)) plan for facilities where workers could be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Failure to have a written hazard communication plan is a very frequently cited OSHA violation.
  • Emergency Action Plan and Fire Prevention Plan (T 8 §3220., 29 CFR 1910.38 and 29 CFR 1910.39).
  • Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan (T8 § 5193., 29 CFR 1910.1030(c)) at facilities that anticipate employee exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
  • HAZWOPER Safety and Health Plan (T8 § 5192, 29 CFR 1910.120(b)) for facilities conducting “emergency response” activities.
  • Respiratory protection (T 8 §5144, 29 CFR 1910.134(c)) for workplaces where employees are required to use respirators.
  • Hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) (T8 §3314, 29 CFR 1910.147(c)) program to prevent injuries during equipment service and maintenance.
  • Permit-required confined space plan (T8 §5157, 29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4)) for any facility that allows entry to permit-required confined spaces.

Think about how you manage workplace safety and health.
There are probably as many different types of safety and health programs as there are businesses. If you manage just a few employees in a low-risk industry, your program is likely to be a simple one: just being a careful observer, listening to your employees’ concerns and responding to them. As businesses grow and become more complex, so do their safety and health programs.

The important thing is to identify applicable workplace hazards, evaluate the severity and likelihood of those hazards and then implement effective controls. Control measures include engineering, administrative and personal protective equipment protocols. Programs to address workplace hazards should be documented and evaluated periodically. At a minimum, they must meet applicable regulatory requirements. Regardless of who you are – a small business owner, a division manager or supervisor on the shop floor – your role in managing workplace safety and health is an important one.

Do you have any questions about workplace safety requirements, or any other EH&S issues? Contact ACTenviro….

References:
https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8index/T8index.asp
https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910
https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926

– brought to you by the ACTenviro consulting team – your EH&S compliance experts

Better Battery Management for Better Living

battery recycle bin

Batteries are such integral parts of our everyday lives, we often take their proper disposal for granted. However, they require more careful handling than many other household items. If disposed of incorrectly, batteries pose both safety and regulatory risks.

Lithium batteries are the most dangerous, due to the possibility of fires and explosions. They have brought down airplanes as well as destroyed many businesses. To ensure our own proper handling of these volatile batteries, ACTenviro has implemented a Lithium Battery Management Program that goes beyond existing governmental regulatory standards.

As part of this program, ACT requires that generators package all lithium batteries (including button cell-type batteries) in Ziploc bags or tape with clear tape. This allows for proper identification of battery type. Our technicians thoroughly inspect any drums containing lithium batteries to assess their condition. If any batteries are damaged or defective, our DOT SP-16532 permit calls for very specific measures as to how to package and identify them for shipment. Accordingly, price is also higher for recycling these batteries.

Dry cell batteries, such as alkaline, nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride, do not have to be taped unless they are over 9 volts. Those above 9 volts can be taped with duct tape, as long as the battery type marking is still visible. Each battery type should be packaged separately due to the differences in the required recycling procedures.

All lead acid and wet nickel cadmium batteries must have terminals taped to prevent short-circuiting.

Automotive batteries are not Universal Waste. However, they can be shipped on a BOL using the proper DOT shipping name. If they are shipped on a pallet, they must have cardboard under and over each layer and be shrink wrapped to the pallet (this also applies to sealed lead acid batteries).

At ACTenviro, we take every necessary precaution to ensure the safe transportation and disposal of all our customers’ waste. Please contact your local ACT branch for assistance with any of your environmental needs.

– Julius Hannegan, Project Manager and resident battery expert

Getting Ahead of the Requirements for Truck Upgrades

truck

At the start of 2012, the state of California implemented stricter requirements on diesel emissions for newer heavier trucks. The same action put tighter diesel emissions rules in place for lighter and older heavier trucks at the start of 2015. The final step in this progression provides, “By January 1, 2023, nearly all trucks and buses will need to have 2010 model year engines or equivalent.”

Why are we telling you all of this? Because, faced with the same tough choice as all CA companies that use diesel trucks – between retrofitting our older, less-fuel-efficient trucks and upgrading our fleet itself – we chose the latter option. It was costlier in the short run to get new vehicles, but it was worth it.

Simply put, the newer our trucks, the more sustainably and efficiently we can assist you with all your transportation and disposal needs. Think of it like an airline’s fleet. Would you rather fly on a Dreamliner or an old turboprop? The photo accompanying this piece shows one of our newer trucks. It may not soar above the clouds, but our drivers have as much pride in this lower-emissions road dog as pilots have in their newfangled birds.

Why Use a COLIWASA?

Coliwasa“COLIWASA” stands for composite liquid waste sampler. The COLIWASA is a device for obtaining a representative sample from stratified or unstratified liquids. It is commonly used for sampling containerized liquids, such as tanks, barrels and drums. It may also be used for pools and other open bodies of stagnant liquid. However, it is not recommended for moving liquids. The COLIWASA obtains a vertical column of liquid representing an accurate cross-section of the sampled material. When sampling, utilize the correct type of COLIWASA for the sampled material.

I bring up the subject as I’ve encountered numerous generators who improperly sample their waste. This can lead to an inaccurate representative sample and faulty analytical results. The end result can be an improper waste determination that is a violation of the regulations. Worse yet, someone could be injured.

Years ago, I happened to visit a generator while they were extracting a sample from the bottom valve of their 2,000-gallon vertical tank for analysis. Primarily water, the sample was extremely clear. I asked how they accounted for the top and middle sections and got a puzzled look back. I retrieved a COLIWASA, took a sample, and found about a four-foot layer of Jet A and diesel fuel as a result.

At another site, a generator asked me to take some acid samples to a lab for their annual sampling, which included PH and RCRA 8 Metals testing. Upon further discussion, I found out they were just scooping the liquids off the top. Therefore, I suggested using a nine-foot COLIWASA to acquire a representative sample. The analytical results showed a measurable increase of three regulated metals which were then added to their waste profile.

In conclusion, using a COLIWASA can be instrumental in taking a proper representative sample, making accurate analyses and determining the correct waste(s). This can minimize potential fines, endangerment of personnel and, potentially, damage to the environment.

– Rusty Lea, Account Manager

Why You Should Never Store Poly Drums in the Sun: a First-Hand Experience

Right Way_Text

Wrong-Way_Text

Throughout my 18 years in the hazardous waste industry, I have always warned my customers about the dangers of storing poly containers outside. Here is why:

About 10 years ago, I was doing a lab pack inventory and a customer had 20-30 five-gallon containers (poly) that were being stored outside; the containers had weathered the elements there for 1-2 years. While I read a label on one of the containers, I put my hand on another container for support…only to have it explode on me! Liquid waste spilled out of the container, drenching my arm. Although I was wearing a smock, long sleeve shirt, safety glasses and latex gloves, they would not have lasted long as protection against the corrosive waste. Thankfully, there was a water hose within 3 feet. Had water not been so close by, or had it been a larger drum or container, this could have resulted in the dispatch of an emergency response team.

Since then, I have always advised my customers to keep poly containers inside – or at least out of direct sunlight – as the sun deteriorates the plastic and causes it to become brittle.

To make sure your hazardous waste is being stored safely and according to regulation, or for other environmental service needs, please contact your local ACTenviro branch.

– Mike Przewoznik, Account Manager

Most Common Environmental Health Violations Issued to Biotech/R&D Facilities in CA

ticketManaging your company’s environmental programs involves complying with regulations from multiple agencies. One such agency, the California Department of Environmental Health, typically conducts annual inspections of a company’s hazardous waste program. These inspections can be stressful, as most inspectors will arrive onsite with no warning. Maintaining compliance with all the regulations enforced by DEH can be quite the task. To make it a little easier on you, here is a list of the most common areas of non-compliance to keep in mind:

1) All hazardous waste containers must be properly labeled, complete with an accumulation start date.

2) Hazardous waste containers must be fully closed at all times, except when adding or removing waste.

3) All waste containers must be disposed of within the allowable accumulation times (180 days for Small Quantity Generators and 90 days for Large Quantity Generators).

4) Accumulation in satellite containers cannot exceed one year.

5) HMBP must be kept up to date.

6) Copies of all hazardous waste manifests must have been mailed to the DTSC.

7) TSDF-signed copies of manifests must have been received for all hazardous waste shipments. These must be kept available for inspection for a minimum of three (3)
years.

8) All medical waste containers must be properly labeled, including generator’s name, address and phone number (applies to San Diego County).

9) Medical waste tracking documents for the past three (3) years are available for inspection.

10) All red biohazard bags must be kept in rigid, leak-resistant containers that are kept clean.

The County of San Diego has provided a self-audit checklist to assist with conducting weekly inspections. This checklist also provides more details on labeling and storage requirements:
http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/deh/hmd/pdf/hm-9635%20(05- 07).pdf

Should you need additional assistance with compliance, ACTenviro has an experienced EHS team at your disposal. You may visit our website for more details:
https://www.actenviro.com/environmental-management/#.

We look forward to serving you!

– Vanessa Clark, Account Manager

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

While attending a Risk Management Conference last month, I had an “Aha!” moment upon learning about ART®. ART stands for Active Release Techniques. ART has been around for quite some time, but around a decade ago, ART began delivering on-site care to corporations that had significant expenses in the area of MSDs, high recordable injury rates, or that simply wanted to prevent conditions from developing as their populations age.

Soft tissue injuries comprised 69% of the total recordable injuries for ACTenviro in 2016. By implementing a preventive maintenance program for our employees, I can help to reduce our recordable injury rate significantly through eliminating many, if not all, soft tissue injuries. Prevention is a significant part of my job and prevention is a large part of the ART program, so for me this was a match made in heaven!

Besides being a physically challenging job, ACT has an aging workforce, our employees have activities outside of work, many of us have poor posture and many other factors take a physical toll our bodies. So why not invest in some preventive maintenance on the human body? In California, we do it every 90 days for our commercial vehicles, why not for the people that work just as hard? Our employees are the most valuable asset we have, yet traditionally they may only receive an annual fitness for duty physical or are only cared for in the event they are injured significantly enough to warrant medical intervention. With ART, we can maintain the muscular wellness of our workforce and prevent musculoskeletal disorders from occurring. It’s time to be proactive instead of reactive!

ART providers use hands-on therapy for a wide variety of conditions involving soft tissue muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and trapped nerves. ART has been proven to eliminate pain and dysfunction without medication or surgery. Another win for our employees! The basic premise is that scar tissue builds up at the injury site, trapping nerves or preventing tendons, ligaments and muscles from working properly. It is as if your muscles are adhered together when they should be moving smoothly across one another. The practitioner finds the scar tissue and frees up the adhesions by putting manual tension on it while moving the muscle through a full range of motion to release the problem area.

So, why is this such a significant win for ACTenviro and our employees? It is because what has been done in the past isn’t always a recipe for the future, and it isn’t always best for the employee. All too often, once workers are referred to worker’s comp, they lose time on the job and they don’t necessarily get better. That’s why we’re always striving to improve our approaches to our employees’ well-being. For me, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!

Stay tuned to hear updates on our progress with ART!

– Krista Wood Harsono, Director of Compliance

A Brief History of ACTenviro’s Semiconductor Decon / Special Projects Group

Decon

In early 2004, ACT submitted a major bid response for hazardous waste management and on-site services to a large Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturing (SEM) firm local to the Bay Area in California. Upon winning the contract, the client immediately became ACT’s largest at the time, and it remains one of ACT’s biggest and most prestigious accounts to this day.

After starting work, ACT determined that there were additional services required by the SEM client, including semiconductor decontamination and demo services, being offered by competing entities. These services were new to ACT and involved helping the client prepare their equipment for install or de-install by cleaning and removing/reducing potential chemical hazards from the equipment.

Seeing the importance of this line of services, ACT sought out and hired a semiconductor tool decon expert. ACT was quickly rewarded with the opportunity to bid on these additional decontamination and demo services at the SEM client. The initial work was supported by the new expert and supplemented with existing staff. In short order, ACT hired several additional Project Managers, Technicians and even industry Engineers.

The work involved with clearing a tool for de-install or shipping for install revolves around first understanding the hazards of the equipment. The following steps are taken:

  • JHA/HASP are developed
  • Chemical and electrical hazards are studied
  • The tool is locked out both mechanically and electrically
  • Gases, ampoules and/or chemical delivery are disconnected
  • Delivery and drain lines or exhaust systems are detached, cleaned and/or disposed
  • Reservoirs and internal tool lines are drained, flushed, neutralized
  • The equipment exterior, chambers, interior, etc. are cleaned with appropriate material
  • The equipment is sampled and analyzed via field or laboratory analysis
  • The access ports, lines or exhaust are capped and plugged
  • A declaration of cleaning is completely filled out by both the ACT technician performing the work and a representative from the SEM client
  • The tool is then rigged, packaged and shipped to its destination by the SEM client

Today, over 12 years after that first decon job, ACT employs a multitude of professional technicians, engineers and project managers with extensive experience in preparing semiconductor equipment for install or de-install. ACT’s clientele has grown to include a wide variety of SEM and semiconductor resellers. The service has morphed, too, such that ACT now provides stand-alone tool survey support for clients in other industries, including biotech, pharmaceutical research, and advanced mechanical / composite research. Many of these companies implement GMP (“Good Manufacturing Practices”) per their appropriate regulatory agencies and call on ACT for tool verification prior to install / de-install / service activities.

ACTenviro is proud to offer tool decontamination services and stakes its reputation on the quality of each and every such job performed. Should you require this type of work, please do not hesitate to reach out.

– Adam Brandin, Director of Sales