What can I legally do with food waste created in my home?

While not an exhaustive list, the most common options are composting, animal or livestock feed, donations, food-waste subscription services, or community-based efforts.

COMPOSTING
Residents can recycle food waste at home through backyard composting using a backyard pile or tumbler, or through vermicomposting, or using a bokashi kit (fermentation). Composting is a controlled biological decomposition of organic wastes (which includes food waste) into a stable product that can be used as a natural soil amendment. Other options include incorporating food waste in vegetable gardens using methods such as “lasagna” or layering gardening, which allows for use of non composted or otherwise treated food scraps. Generally, backyard composting does not allow for dairy or meat products. Adding compost to your soil increases water retention, decreases erosion, and keeps organic materials out of landfills. OF NOTE: In some communities, local zoning, health codes, or homeowner association deeds may prohibit backyard composting or might specify the types of approved composting vessels. For example, requirements may state that composting must be contained in enclosed composters. For more information on home composting, valuable information can be found on the Ohio EPA’s website http://epa.ohio.gov/dmwm/home/food_scrap.aspx#143164395-home-composting.

ANIMAL FEED
Food waste can also be used as animal feed for backyard animals such as chickens. Food waste should be appropriate to the animal’s natural diet. Some animals are more obvious food recipients than others. Pigs, specifically, are well suited for food waste feedings. For information on feeding food waste to livestock, please see the recent legal guide spearheaded by Harvard University http://www.chlpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Leftovers-for-Livestock_A-Legal-Guide_August-2016.pdf. For information on feeding pigs specifically, check out the website The Pig Idea thepigidea.org. You can also contact your local solid waste, county agricultural extension office, or public health agency for more detailed information.

DONATIONS
Food waste that is not expired, opened, or partially consumed can often be donated to local food banks, community shelters, or other non-profit services. Most cities have at least one of these options available. Some services also accept excess fresh food from caterers and company cafeterias. While these services do not take prepared or fresh food directly from residents, residents could encourage hired caterers or employers to consider this option. Donations in good faith are protected from liability under the Federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. In Franklin County, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank is the primary foodbank and acts as a source of product for other county operations. In 2015, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank distributed over 26 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need. The Ohio EPA maintains an active list of primary donation outlets. http://epa.ohio.gov/dmwm/home/food_scrap.aspx#143164391-donations.

FOOD WASTE SERVICES
While there government-sponsored food waste collection programs are not yet a reality in Central Ohio, residents can work with local companies to have food scraps removed from their home. Some composting facilities accept food scraps and may accept them directly from homeowners. There are also a growing number of subscription service companies that will collect your food scraps at home for a fee. Dairy and meat products may be permissible, depending on the company. For a list of companies in the central ohio area, please see <<<<<< data-preserve-html-node="true">>>>>>>.

COMMUNITY EFFORTS
Community gardens sometimes accept food waste for their on-site composting. It’s also possible that neighbors would accept neighborhood scraps or could work together to form a compost co-op.

Is there anything I should not do or am not legally permitted to do with home food waste?

Dumping food waste by itself into a pile out in the open with no covering will cause odors and vermin nuisances. While not complicated, composting does require a certain mix of waste and a lack of light and oxygen. Open dumping of waste is illegal and will likely result in a nuisance and/or an open dumping violation, not to mention unhappy neighbors.

Is there an effort to create a city-wide curbside composting program?

Currently, there are no cities or municipalities in Central Ohio that offer a curbside composting program. Much like traditional curbside recycling, a government-sponsored curbside collection program is developed at the local level by communities working with their waste haulers. A limiting factor in Central Ohio to developing curbside food waste collection is a lack of facilities that can accept food waste.

Should you wish to gather support for such an effort, model cities to consider are San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Links for more information on the San Francisco’s efforts - sfenvironment.org/zero-waste/downloads - or the company that helped make it happen - www.recology.com. For information on Portland, see the city’s website - www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/402972.

While Central Ohio may not have a city-wide composting program available for residents, there are a growing number of local companies offering residential curbside composting services. Compost Columbus and The Compost Exchange are two options available as of May 2017. 


How do I start composting food waste at home?


https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home#home

http://www.compostcolumbus.com/

https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/types-composting-and-understanding-process

The City of Columbus and Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District offer a rebate program on rain barrels, compost bins, and native plants or trees as part of their Community Backyards Conservation Program. City of Columbus residents as well as residents in partnering communities may be eligible for one rebate per address per year in the amount of $50. Eligibility is based on your primary tax district and you must participate in an online quiz or register for a local workshop. Click here for details.

How big of a compost pile can I maintain in my backyard? 


The size of compost piles in a residential area will depend mostly on the specific municipality’s restrictions in the zoning or health codes. Some communities dictate that composting can only be done in fully enclosed backyard composters, while others allow open piles. For example, in Columbus, home composting piles or bins need to be smaller than 300 square feet or it will fall under more stringent regulations. While in xxx, …….. For more information...

Is there anything I can’t put in my backyard composter?


http://www.ecocycle.org/backyard-composting

How to (Step by Step Guide) http://www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_3788196/File/EnvironmentalServices/SolidWaste/Residents/Composting/CompostingGuide_2015.pdf

Can I take food waste to my local school’s garden or a local farm?

Yes, you are permitted to take your personal food waste to a school garden or farm. It is the responsibility of the school or farm to have the required exemptions and proper approvals that will allow them to accept food scraps.

Be sure to check with your local school or farm to be sure they are open to accepting the communities food waste, before you show up at their doorstep with a bucket of scraps.

Can I transport food waste across county lines?

The short answer is it depends.

In Ohio, the state is divided up into solid waste management districts. These districts, which can include a single county or multiple counties, have established rules around what can enter and leave their district. These are called “flow control” rules. These rules may require that any solid waste generated within the district is disposed of or recycled in facilities within the district, unless the transporter has been given approval to move the waste material out of the district. If the district doesn’t have flow control rules, then you can assume the food waste can be transported across county lines.

Below is a list of solid waste management districts reported by Ohio EPA as having flow control rules. Please contact your corresponding district to inquire about waste transport requirements.

List of flow controlled districts

For a full list of Ohio solid waste districts and contacts, please see the Ohio EPA portal

epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/general/swmd_chair_list.pdf

Can I legally apply food waste directly to my farm fields or home garden?

Yes, in general, you can apply food waste directly to your home garden using appropriate garden techniques. One popular and easily applied food waste option is the use of spent coffee grounds. As a fertilizer, used coffee grounds are slightly acidic and full of nitrogen, a mineral that aids vegetable and plant growth. Coffee grounds are particularly good for tomato plants, spinach, corn, roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.

Please note that some municipalities may have long-standing regulations that prohibit the direct and open application practice in order to prevent nuisance conditions, such as odor or vermin. But with appropriate gardening techniques, the average gardener should be able to avoid these conditions.

Yes. Neighbors can work together to divert their food waste by supporting each other’s efforts. There are no regulations or restrictions that prevent combining of food waste. Always be sure you work with the owner of the compost pile/system in order to keep it at optimum working order.

Are there conditions on the size of the compost pile maintained at my institution?

The size of the compost area will generally depend on the equipment and method used. Some methods by design require small, manageable areas for optimal organic breakdown. Other options, usually enclosed, allow for larger areas.

The Ohio EPA offers an exemption that allow anyone to establish a small composting site no larger than 300 square feet. The exemption applies to the footprint area of the pile, but does not set limits on the size (height) of the pile. The 300 square feet limitation includes the footprint of the compost pile and/or equipment as well as the area used for storage of wood chips or other bulking material and the area used for curing the compost. Under this exemption, anyone can compost food scraps, manures, yard waste, wood chips, paper, and other bulking agents from any source. There are no restrictions on how the resulting compost is managed. Testing is not required, but recommended.

Be aware that while Ohio EPA provides a 300 square feet exemption, local rules might restrict the unit to a smaller footprint and restrict the type of waste materials. For example, a municipality might not allow neighbors to bring manure to a small community garden that is surrounded by occupied residences. For more information on these restrictions, please see development.franklincountyohio.gov/projects/chickens-ducks-rabbits/documents/Chicken_Duck_Rabbit_Amendment_7_9_2013_000.pdf

What options do I have for my commercial food scraps?

•    Create waste chart 
•    Divide answers by pre-consumer/post-consumer
•    Sub divide by types of waste
•    Address contamination concerns
•    Off-site: Anaerobic digester, organic composting, direct to farm
•    On-site: Composting, big green

I run a restaurant or commercial kitchen, can I donate my leftover prepared food rather than wasting it?

•    Rules around prepared food donations: 
•    Rules for ingredient donations:
•    Types of food donation organizations: Food banks, community kitchens, shelters
•    Specific organizations: Community Plates, Mid-ohio foodbank, Faith Mission, Van Buren Women’s Shelter

Can I transport food waste from a local school and place them in my backyard composter?

Yes, residents can collect school food waste and compost the waste in their backyard composter or using another method of food waste breakdown. Community gardens can also create such arrangements. You should only transport as much food waste as your backyard system can properly manage. OF NOTE: Prohibitions may exist in local zoning and health codes. In Franklin County, there are few restrictions dedicated specifically to food waste, but general waste regulations exist and could be applied. However, the most restrictive regulations of waste sites are connected to floodways and community gardens. Specific HOA boards may also have restrictions for composting food waste, such as types of permissible containers.

Can my business take food scraps to my school garden or local farm?

Yes, you are permitted to take your personal food waste to a school garden or farm. It is the responsibility of the school or farm to have the required exemptions and proper approvals that will allow them to accept food scraps. Be sure to check with your local school or farm to be sure they are open to accepting the communities food waste, before you show up at their doorstep with a bucket of scraps.

Can I transport food scraps from a commercial kitchen to a compost facility, which is located in a different county?

In Ohio, the state is divided up into solid waste management districts. These districts, which can include a single county or multiple counties, have established rules around what can enter and leave their district. These are called “flow control” rules. These rules may require that any solid waste generated within the district is disposed of or recycled in facilities within the district, unless the transporter has been given approval to move the waste material out of the district. If the district doesn’t have flow control rules, then you can assume the food waste can be transported across county lines.

Below is a list of solid waste management districts reported by Ohio EPA as having flow control rules. Please contact your corresponding district to inquire about waste transport requirements. List of flow controlled districts For a full list of Ohio solid waste districts and contacts, please see the Ohio EPA portal epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/general/swmd_chair_list.pdf

What diversion options are available for food scraps generated at businesses or other institutions?

Edible food waste

Donations Food banks Local shelters Food rescue Non-edible food waste animal feed anaerobic digestion composting rendering vermiculture black soldier flies

Can I donate or sell food waste directly to a farm for field usage or livestock feed?

Yes, donations and sales to farms are permissible. It is the responsibility of the farmer or recipient of the food waste to ensure that any permits or approvals required for the chosen recycling or processing method are complete. It is also the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that all accepted food waste is appropriate for the chosen diversion method. This is especially important for animal feed collections. Check on ODA regulations

Are there any regulations beyond standard business service regulations that apply to obtaining and transporting food waste?

No, there are no regulations beyond standard business service regulations. Food waste is considered a solid waste. Ohio EPA does not have registration or licensing requirements for transporters of solid waste. However, depending on the type of vehicle used, there may be requirements for vehicle registrations from USDOT, which in Ohio are implemented by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). There may also be requirements from the Ohio Department of Taxation for state taxes and some local jurisdictions also require a local registration for tax purposes.

Also, if you foresee moving the food waste across county lines, contact the applicable solid waste management district, especially if they have flow control rules. There may be special requirements for certain situations. For a list of Ohio solid waste districts and contacts, use this link http://epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/general/swmd_chair_list.pdf

What do I need to do to ensure my food waste processing operation is following regulations?

http://epa.ohio.gov/dmwm/Home/food_scrap.aspx#143164396-regulations

http://epa.ohio.gov/portals/34/document/guidance/gd_667.pdf

https://development.franklincountyohio.gov/assets/forms/forms.cfm#zoneForms

Can I sell my compost to a community garden or anyone else? If so, do I need to test the compost?

Ohio EPA’s composting regulations exempt permitting requirements for any composting operation that takes place in an area of 300 square feet or less. The exemption also allows for the use of the resulting compost at any location and does not prohibit the sale of the compost. Testing for agricultural nutrients is not required, but recommended. Laboratories that offer soil testing should also be able to test compost. Local soil and water conservation districts are good resources for laboratory recommendations and insight. The Ohio Department of Agriculture maintains a list of local soil and water conservation districts in Ohio:

http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/SWC/SearchLocalSWCD.aspx.

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