In celebration of America Recycles Day, the Solid Waste Authority, in conjunction with SC DHEC and the SC Commerce Department hosted an America Recycles Day/Don’t Waste Food Day. The outreach event is being held to help educate Horry County about food waste and how to reduce their waste personally.
Most people do not realize that food waste is the number one item thrown away across America. The amount of food wasted in a year is a staggering 38.4 million tons, it accounts for over 20% of our country's waste. South Carolina, itself produced over 600,000 tons of food waste last year.
In 2015, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority initiated a Food Waste Composting Program. This program is taught and used in schools and universities across the county. Coastal Carolina University is using the program to recycle food waste from everything including sporting events, concerts and even everyday meals.
Horry County Schools began a composting program in 2015: "Horry County Schools began its organics collection program in the fall of 2015, at three schools and has since expanded to 34 elementary, middle, and high schools which have diverted over 1,000 tons of organic material from our county landfill to be turned into compost. The HCS Cafeteria Composting program has not only extended the life of our landfill and put compost in our school learning gardens but has also increased student environmental literacy and allows our students to actively contribute to making their communities more sustainable every day,” stated Gregory Sponseller, Sustainability Analyst with Horry County Schools.
“We believe composting is an environmentally sound manner to handle food waste, when prevention and donation are not available options” indicated Danny Knight, SWA Executive Director. Since it’s inception, the SWA Food Waste Composting Program has diverted 1,280.73 tons of food waste from the Municipal Solid Waste Landfill and has saved approximately 1.76 days of landfill airspace. The SWA has sold over 430 tons of enhanced compost to the public since 2015.
As a part of this event and to celebrate America Recycles Day, the SWA will be giving away 100 home composting bins during the event.
While food waste continues to rise there are millions around the country that will not have food on their dinner plate or enough food over the weekend. Just in South Carolina there is over 800,000 people who are food insecure, meaning that they do not know where their next meal might come from.
The Lowcountry Food Bank (LFB) serves the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina and distributed more than 26 million pounds of food in 2016 . LFB is a clearinghouse for donated food products that are distributed to a network of nearly 300 member feeding agencies including soup kitchens, homeless shelters and emergency food pantries. LFB is a member of Feeding America and is committed to educating the public about the problems of and solutions to domestic hunger as well as advocating on behalf of our neighbors who experience hunger.