The EPA estimates that more than 36 million tons of food waste is generated annually of which only five percent is diverted from landfills or incinerators. Nationally, the diversion and disposal of food waste has been identified as extremely important to our environmental well-being. Numerous states have enacted legislation that mandates the separation and disposal of food waste from general trash. Massachusetts is one state that has mandated such legislation and locally on Cape Cod our environment is especially fragile.
Typical composting of food waste takes months, requires the use of transportation and heavy equipment, takes up space, creates issues with odors and rodents, and emits high levels of methane and greenhouse gasses as it slowly decomposes. Dehydrated food waste (DFW) is heated and agitated to remove moisture and is more nutrient dense than other forms of food waste but has not gone through the microbial process like typical compost. DFW reduces environmental impacts by diverting the waste from the general waste stream while recycling valuable organic nutrients that would otherwise be lost.
DFW is nutrient dense, a potential source for organic production, easy to transport, does not require composting and is easier to apply than other food waste end products making a potentially superior soil amendment. DFW may also be a valuable fertilizer beyond usage for large scale agriculture and may be suitable for other commercial and residential fertilizer uses. Recent research concluded that typical soil amended with DFW yielded comparatively to a controlled application of mineral fertilizer.
The CC Challenger Green Project (CCCGP) is a collaboration of the Cape Cod Challenger Club and local Special Needs programs who collect the food waste from their cafeterias, workplaces, and homes. The food waste is then processed daily using a special machine that dehydrates it to a fraction of its original volume over a 6-10 hour cycle. The clean and odorless by-product is then sifted and ground creating a nutrient rich organic soil amendment that can be mixed with typical soil or compost and used in lawn care, vegetable and flower gardens. The entire process, from collection of the food waste to the bagging and labeling of the end product, is performed by Special Needs participants. They are even responsible for the vegetables and flowers that are grown in the gardens using the product that are used during school lunches and brought home to share with their families.
The CCCGP is taking an innovative approach to creating a healthier environment and involving the talents of the Special Needs population. The participants are gaining valuable vocational skills that will help them prepare for their lives in the community. The project is also creating much needed job opportunities for this population by showing them that they can play a positive and influential role in the world by cleaning, greening and feeding our local community in an environmentally sensible way. Our purpose is to enlighten, educate, and empower them to be role models for their typical peers and the community and help teach everyone to become better stewards of our environment.
The sale of this product will be specifically used to support education, training programs, and activities to benefit the Cape’s physically, intellectually and developmentally challenged population. Working together we can make our community a cleaner, greener and better place to live!
Your support and contributions will allow us to teach vocational skills, improve the environment, and provide job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.