When Michael Saucier picks up his clients’ trash, he is appalled at what he sees.
“There was just so much food in each of my customer’s trash,” said Saucier, who owns Stateline Waste Management in Windham. “I figured there had to be something better to do with it than putting it into a landfill.”
Saucier is now one of the companies in the area who recycle food waste commercially.
More than 36 million tons of food waste is generated each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Only 4 percent of that was diverted from landfills or incinerators.
“It’s a major priority for us,” said Christine Beling, a project engineer with the EPA in Boston. “It’s a valuable resource and can be a benefit both economically and environmentally.”
Doug Kemp, a waste management specialist with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, estimated 20 percent of municipal solid waste is food.
But finding composters to take the waste isn’t easy, he said.
“We only have six or eight permitted composters in New Hampshire,” Kemp said. “Several of those don’t even take food waste, because they just wouldn’t get enough.”
The EPA recommends two methods of disposing of food waste. The first is taking it to a composter, the other is taking it to a farm to feed animals, which is what Saucier does.
“I give it to Willowdale Farm in Tyngsboro,” Saucier said. “They use it to feed it to their cows, horses and pigs.”
He collects about 3,000 tons a week from restaurants, bakeries, even the Pelham School District.
“They contacted us before this (school) year,” said Kelly Rambeau, Pelham’s food service director. “In my previous job, we had done composting, so I thought it would be a good idea to bring it into our district.”