Composting is slowly becoming a more viable alternative to inundating landfills with food waste. Some cities in the U.S. have started commercial composting programs that pick up food waste and take it to a plant for composting.
In support of this, companies are offering practical and compostable alternatives to plastics, especially in the food service industry. Excellent Packaging & Supply , based out of Richmond, California, sells biodegradable plates, coffee cups, and Spudware, eating utensils made out of potato starch rather than plastic. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle explains that compostable products break down easier in commercial composting plants than in landfills or backyard composts, and to maximize the environmental benefits of their biodegradable nature, municiple composting programs must expand into other cities.
According to an October 2, 2007 CNN article, composting can play a substantial role in reducing green house gas emissions from landfills. As food breaks down in landfills it produces methane, a gas that traps twenty-three times more heat when released into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide(34% of the methane emissions in the U.S. come from landfills). But when food waste is composted in commercial facilities, the green house gases can be contained and used to produce biogas, a renewable resource that can be used for heat, light, and fuel.
To reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills and green house gas emissions coming out, restaurants can influence their cities to establish composting programs, buy compostable products, and begin to institute composting systems into their waste management efforts.