Food scrap recycling and composting today helps create a Sustainable Tomorrow, and that’s just what Richmond International Raceway is doing as part of the NASCAR Race to Green™ program. In an effort to reduce food waste, RIR is launching a partnership with Sustainable America and Natural Organic Process Enterprises (NOPE) to divert back-of-house food waste on race weekends.
But it’s not just about this weekend. Americans waste 40% of the food we produce from farm to fork according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. And roughly two-thirds of food waste goes to landfills, leaving only one-third diverted to other useful purposes such as composting, energy and fuels generation, animal feed and redistribution to people. Only 1% of food waste generated makes it to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters that distribute food to Americans in need. That’s an alarming number when you consider nearly 50 million Americans are living in a state of food insecurity, meaning that they cannot always meet their basic food needs.
“We have to lead by example,” said Dennis Bickmeier, President of Richmond International Raceway. “There’s a lot of ways that we can make a difference in our community, especially by donating unused food from the weekend to local organizations who help provide food to Central Virginia’s most vulnerable residents. And the food rescue and composting efforts at RIR this weekend is just the first step in diverting food waste. Our goal is to grow the program with each race here at RIR. We already offer recycling receptacles and collection programs for our fans and encourage carpooling, eventually we hope to bring the diversion process to our fans as well.
It’s our job to help educate our fans and our community on ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle,” continued Bickmeier. “A lot of what we’re doing here at RIR can be done at home too.”
According to the US Department of Agriculture, 133 billion pounds of the 430 billion pounds of available food supply at the consumer and retail level never gets eaten. We reject perfectly edible food because it has dark spots. We eat less than we order in restaurants. We throw away food too soon. Millions of tons of food fill landfills every year. About half of the food that currently goes to landfills can be put to better use by composting. Food scraps and an increasing number of disposable products can be composted rather than put in the trash.
“In this country, we devote 80 percent of our water and 10 percent of our energy to grow, transport and cook our food,” noted Jeremy Kranowitz, Executive Director of Sustainable America. “When you throw uneaten food away, you’re wasting money three ways – not only the money you spent on food, but also indirectly increasing your energy and water bills, too. We suggest people keep three words in mind: Choose, Share, and Restore. Choose the right amount of food that you can eat; Share excess with your friends or with someone in need; and Restore the Earth by turning what’s leftover to compost. That’s the path to wasting less, and towards a more sustainable America.”
Non-perishable foods not used during race weekends are already donated to Feedmore, Central Virginia’s Food Bank, a long-time partner of RIR. Now, through the partnership with Sustainable America and NOPE, foods that are prepared but not served during the race weekend will be donated to Good Samaritan Ministries to help feed the hungry in the Richmond area. In addition, organic waste produced by food preparation will be diverted from landfills to a compost facility in nearby Waverly, Virginia, which will generate and return biodegradable nutrients back to the soil for future growth.
“Capturing food waste and converting it to a usable product is an important part of closing the loop on sustainability, explained Chip Hall, President and Founder of Natural Organic Process Enterprises. Studies have shown that 82% of what is discarded from kitchens is recoverable. NOPE is excited to work with RIR on this important effort to turn what would normally be discarded into something that benefits everyone.”
You’ve probably heard something about composting, maybe even know someone who does it, but maybe you’re not quite sure exactly what it is. It’s the process of converting food scraps, paper and other natural materials into healthy, clean, fertile soil. The nutrients in the waste items can be recovered in this manner and used to grow more food with less fertilizer needed. Composting helps improve and protect our soils and the environment. It’s easier than you might think and can be done not only at a large-scale sporting venue like RIR, you can compost at home or at your office too. Composting can be as easy as throwing compostable materials (potato peels, egg shells, grape stems, used napkins, uneaten food) into an old trash bin and covering them with dead leaves and grass clippings. More information on home and office composting can be found here. So, what are you waiting for? You can join RIR, Sustainable America and NOPE in our efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle! Check out RIR’s new “green” page with helpful tips from many of our partners. And be sure to do your part by recycling while you’re at RIR this weekend for the TOYOTA OWNERS 400.
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