West Michigan group aims to reduce food waste

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — West Michigan throws away about 132,000 tons of food waste, and Southwest Michigan about 106,000 tons.

The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum wants to reduce that waste.

The group has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, principally Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Berrien counties.

There will be a focus on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  

The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, the forum’s executive director, in statement.

Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, according to a recent study by the forum.

The waste is the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities.

Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.  

Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. They also offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

The council will be facilitated by WMSBF in partnership with GreenMichigan.org and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.

Founding council members include…

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