Towards a waste-free Summit County: Local efforts amplify to eliminate food waste by 2030

PARK CITY, Utah — Today, March 22, Park City Community Foundation’s Climate Fund Manager Andy Hecht presented the “Zero Food Waste 2030 Compact: United for a Sustainable Future” to a joint session of the Park City Council and Summit County Council. This compact represents one of the first steps recommended by the Zero Food Waste 2030 Strategic Plan released in January. It reads as follows:

Zero Food Waste 2030 Compact: United for a Sustainable Future

“We, local governments, nonprofits, businesses, and residents, are joining together to eliminate food waste from the Summit County, Utah landfill by 2030. Recognizing that food waste is a major source of potent greenhouse gases, accounts for more than half the waste in our landfill, and creates a financial burden for our community, this compact calls on community members to make a united commitment to reduce, divert, and eliminate food waste from entering our landfill.
Park City and Summit County are already leaders in addressing climate change, each having committed to ambitious environmental goals. We share a passion for building a healthier world for the next generation. Reducing and diverting food waste is an immediate and impactful step to improve air and water quality, slow climate change, allocate public funds more wisely, and create a more sustainable future.
In support of the Zero Food Waste 2030 goal, we pledge to:
• Minimize food waste, acknowledging that food production is costly and uses critical resources
like water, energy, and land.
• Divert food waste through composting to reduce a key source of methane in our community.
• Collaborate to achieve our goal, knowing that lasting change is only possible when our residents,
local government, nonprofits, businesses, and tourists work together.
• Support systematic changes in our community that will ultimately provide more effective,
sustainable, and economical waste management practices and tools.
• Educate ourselves on composting and the importance of food waste diversion.
• Share our progress and learnings along the way.
By signing this compact, we pledge our support of the Zero Food Waste 2030 goal and to uphold the principles listed above.”

Why Summit County residents, businesses and organizations should support the Zero Food Waste by 2030 Strategic Plan

  • Extending the life of the land fill will reduce the cost of waste management.

A 2019 study commissioned by Summit County indicates that roughly 80 percent of the solid waste that reaches the local landfill could be avoided, with 40 to 60 percent of that being food waste. Eliminating the food waste will extend the life of the land fill, reducing the cost of waste management. The economic costs of food waste to residents and businesses are significant. In the United States, food waste costs $218 billion annually. This includes the cost of lost food, the cost of disposing of food waste, and the cost of environmental damage caused by food waste.

  • Strategies that divert food waste from the landfill will reduce contamination risks of Summit County’s water supply.

Food waste increases potential leachate risks. Leachate is a liquid, biodegradable material that contains harmful chemicals and bacteria. Leachate can contaminate groundwater and surface water. Republic Services transports residential waste to the Three Mile Landfill. On an annual basis, approximately 50,000 tons of refuse are collected in Summit County; about 35% of this total is collected from approximately 18,000 residential units across the county through the curbside waste collection program, with the remainder from the commercial sector.

This is only one of the initial steps towards reaching a sustainable future. Megan Fleming Hytjan, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Park City Community Foundation said, “the compact received overwhelmingly positive feedback.” They are hoping to have it signed by both councils in the next few weeks. The topic will return to Park City Council on April 25 as part of a bigger conversation.

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