The food recovery hierarchy
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Southeast Recycling Conference & Trade Show (SERC): Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I recently spoke at the Southeast Recycling Conference & Trade Show (SERC) on the topic of organics recycling and how technology can help to improve upon nature’s own recycling methods.

During my session I touched on everything from the need for greater education of companies and their employees regarding how to recycle and compost correctly, to the regulations surrounding the food waste that goes to animal feed.

Recycling and Composting Education is Key

One of the main reasons I enjoy speaking at trade shows such as SERC is because they help to remind me of the challenges facing this industry today.

The biggest takeaway for me from this year’s event is that there is a clear gap between companies and individuals who want to be proactive in improving their organization’s recycling and composting efforts, and those who know how to do so. More often than not the desire is there to increase efforts to reduce your environmental impact, but there is a greater need for education about how this can be accomplished.

As a Waste Diversion Manager and the Organics Recycling Lead here at Rubicon Global, it is my job to design, implement, and manage organics recycling programs for our national and international customers. I believe that organics recycling should always start with waste reduction; that is, reducing the amount of waste being created in the first place. Organics recycling programs can help organizations discover what they are discarding, which can lead to utilizing these products for other uses or improved purchasing processes. In addition to food waste reduction and surplus food donation, we also explore sending any remaining food scraps to end destinations such as animal feed, anaerobic digestion, and composting.

Improving Waste Diversion with Technology

Rubicon Global’s technology (alongside our analog solutions, such as the RUBICONMethod) helps to ensure that food waste goes to the highest possible use in the Food Recovery Hierarchy, at the lowest possible cost.

The Food Recovery Hierarchy, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a clear prioritization of different actions that businesses can take in order to ensure that they prevent and, when not preventable, divert, food waste, to ensure as little is wasted as possible.

The food recovery hierarchy

With each tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy focusing on a different strategy for managing food waste, this top-down approach looks at the most beneficial uses of food waste (with the top level focused on having less food to waste in the first place). This complements Rubicon’s technology, which allows organics haulers to work with their customers to ensure that food waste finds its way to the highest rung of the Food Recovery Hierarchy possible, while improving the efficiency of their hauling operations along the way.

SERC might have just concluded, but our fight to convert waste streams into valuable resources here at Rubicon Global continues. I work every day to ensure that we are consistently raising awareness of the organics recycling capabilities available to our customers, as well as what our technology can offer hauler partners to help improve nature’s own recycling methods.

Rubicon Global has organics recycling capabilities throughout North America, serving customers large and small. If you are interested in Rubicon designing, implementing, and managing your organics recycling program, reach out to me at ryan.cooper@rubiconglobal.com.

I look forward to seeing you all at SERC 2020!


Ryan Cooper is a Waste Diversion Manager and the Organics Recycling Lead at Rubicon Global. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.

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