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Back Local News Limtiaco considering various food waste disposal options

Limtiaco considering various food waste disposal options

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SEN. Michael Limtiaco has returned from a fact-finding mission to Seoul, Korea where he met with Yeon-man Jeong, vice minister of Environment, and Chun Koo Cho, president of Sudokwon Landfill Site Management Corp., one of the world’s seven largest landfills on an acceptance category of 20,000 tons per day.

Limtiaco discussed various possible solutions to divert Guam’s food waste away from the island’s landfill.

“In 2002, the South Korean government enacted into law a measure that mandates all major food waste producers to source separate their food waste,” Limtiaco said. “We decided to pursue a similar initiative when the initial idea was sparked from discussions with UOG (University of Guam), Department of Agriculture, the Recycling Association of Guam, and our local pig farmers during a think tank discussion on how to jump-start Guam’s livestock industry,” the senator said.

Limtiaco has already met with federal receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc., which currently operates Guam’s Solid Waste Division, and discussed the opportunity and challenges of diverting food waste and converting it to pelletized livestock feed.

“When Vice Minister Jeong and Mr. Cho heard of our intent to convert food waste to livestock feed, they were encouraged to hear that South Korea’s food waste diversion efforts have had an impact as far away as Guam. We discussed both the success of the policy and the existing challenges that remain, and they are working toward better solutions as technology evolves. Vice Minister Jeong has offered his assistance in providing current government policy to help draft legislation,” Limtiaco said.

“I am attempting to find solutions in line with the Food Recovery Hierarchy model that can be found on the U.S. [Environmental Protection Agency’s] website,” he added.

Divert

The senator hopes to divert Guam’s flow of food waste in an effort to prolong the life of the landfill while simultaneously creating an opportunity to revive the island’s livestock industry by providing low-cost feed. “If we can achieve our goals, then we’d be doing a great service for our community. Not only will we provide for import substitution by reducing the importation of meat products, but we will also be supporting our local livestock farmers and subsequently achieving island sustainability and food security,” Limtiaco said.

According to the USEPA’s Facts and Figures for 2010 on Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States, 13.9 percent of all Municipal Solid Waste is composed of food waste. The other components are recyclables and compostable items that should not end up in a landfill. Limtiaco said a unified and proactive approach is the key to approaching a zero waste goal.

On Guam, the largest producers of food waste come from large commercial operations, large government agencies such as the Guam Departments of Education, Corrections and Youth Affairs, and the island’s various hotels and restaurants.

According to the senator’s office, many of Guam’s hotels and restaurants already provide farmers with food waste. The problem, however, is the separation of food from things that accidentally get thrown in, including bones, utensils, and other cooking and dining wares.

Additionally, farmers that come to collect the food waste are met with 90-gallon containers of food scraps that have to be transferred into their own buckets. The process, although greatly appreciated by farmers, is cumbersome, labor-intensive and time-consuming.

Limtiaco said food waste source separation coupled with food waste conversion solutions thus should be the first steps.

“After the food waste is separated, you’d pay your normal tipping fees for it to be hauled away. The hauler would bring it to the food waste conversion and pelletizer facility where it will be treated and finally pelletized into animal feed and purchased by farmers at reduced rates, since the tipping fees will fund the conversion,” the senator said.

In addition, legislation could spur economic activity as it would require that the operation be bid out to the private sector.

“We envision small business creation to provide solutions to haul and develop food waste conversion alternatives and feed pelletizing. The tipping fees may also be used to fund a [U.S. Department of Agriculture]-approved mobile slaughterhouse, so we can provide low-cost feed alternatives to financially assist livestock farmers and provide a USDA-approved place, where they can bring their livestock to be inspected and processed for sale commercially at our local markets and to support the food and beverage sector of our tourism industry,” Limtiaco said.

“There is also a government-owned parcel of land in Yigo dedicated to a slaughterhouse. We hope to see the livestock industry flourishing for local consumption and so much so that it will create an export market for Guam. We’ll be able to create jobs, grow our taxable base which will increase government revenues, supply our island with USDA-approved meat, and create an export market.”

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