Composting on the Menu for the Perfect Sustainable Thanksgiving

Nov 20, 2012, 10:58 ET from Environmental Industry Associations

Solid Waste and Recycling Industry Thankful Composting, Curbside Food-Waste Recycling on the Rise

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As American families celebrate Thanksgiving, the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) celebrates the growing role composting plays in reducing America's food waste output. Composting, the controlled decomposition of organic materials, is an environmentally friendly, sustainable alternative to disposing of food and other organic wastes in landfills. By combining organic ingredients, including many items found at Thanksgiving dinner, composters can mimic natural decomposition and reduce food waste totals.

"Composting has really turned the corner in America today," said EIA President and CEO Sharon H. Kneiss. "We are seeing communities recognize the value composting has in reducing food waste and environmental impact. The Environmental Industry Associations encourages individuals to consider composting at home, as well."

Communities across the country are starting to embrace composting and incorporate compost waste disposal into their curbside pick-up services, although the vast majority of these focus on yard-waste removal. Nearly 3,100 community-composting programs were documented in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with approximately 200 of these programs also incorporating food waste. Experts estimate that 40 million households will receive curbside pickup for yard- and food-waste composting by 2020.

The EPA recently announced that food waste is now the largest component of municipal solid waste being sent to landfills—more than 33 million tons annually—but noted that its latest numbers show composting continues to play a major role in wastes management. Organic waste composting helped recover more than 20 million tons of solid waste every year from 2005 to 2010.

"It is wonderful to enjoy a big meal with friends and family on Thanksgiving, but we shouldn't lose sight of the amount of usable food we throw away," Kneiss said. "Composting, recycling, finishing leftovers and donating unused food are great ways to help reduce America's food waste, and we are excited to see more Americans doing these things."

Thankful that Americans and their communities have embraced composting, EIA presents a menu of tips on how to be more environmentally friendly this Thanksgiving:

  • Cranberries, Yams and other Fruits and Veggies:  Fruit and vegetable scraps are perfect ingredients for effective composting. The composting process requires a combination of nitrogen-rich "greens," like fruits and vegetables; carbon-rich "browns" – dead leaves, twigs, wood and even cardboard; water; and oxygen. (You should know that community compost piles are secured to keep out pests.)
  • Turkey, Ham and Other Meats: These delicious entrees can be composted but are best repurposed into stocks, soups or other dishes, eaten as leftovers, frozen for future use or donated. If you know your family or guests will not finish a whole turkey, consider buying only a turkey breast or a smaller portion, saving money and food waste at the same time!
  • Bread: Stale bread does not equal bad bread! Take those rolls and repurpose them as croutons for salad, bread crumbs for baking or delicious bread pudding for dessert.
  • Dessert and Coffee:  Can't finish that fruit medley? Toss it, and your coffee grounds, into your new composting pile! Coffee grounds are also "green" composting ingredients.
  • Food Packaging:  Did that pumpkin pie come in a cardboard box? Cardboard is a great addition to compost piles, especially those boxes with food residue that can't be accepted by paper-recycling programs.  Most municipal recycling services will accept cardboard and other paper packaging items that do not contain food residues. Check with your local solid waste and recycling company, and be sure to recycle any used glass or plastic containers, too.

For more information on composting, please contact Thom Metzger or visit

The Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) is the trade association that represents the private sector solid waste and recycling services industry through its two sub-associations, the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) and the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC). NSWMA and WASTEC members conduct business in all 50 states and include garbage collectors, processors, recyclers, equipment manufacturers and other service providers. For more information about how innovation in the environmental services industry is helping to solve today's environmental challenges, visit

SOURCE Environmental Industry Associations