FAO urges staff to go further to recycle organic waste

Thu, 08/03/12

Does it really matter which bin you put your paper cup in? And what happens to all the stuff in the composting bin anyway? FAO InTouch (the FAO in-house magazine) has been investigating...
 
Each year the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome throws away around 700,000 kg of waste.
 
At the moment about 14% of that waste is put into the designated organic waste bins. But Mitch Hall – who works on sustainability within the FAO’s  Infrastructure and facilities Management Branch, CSAI – thinks more can be done.
 
Most FAO staff are doing a great job at recycling. But some people are still putting organic waste into the mixed waste bins, and putting things such as bottles and cans in the organic bins. It’s something we need to fix.” says Hall.
 
The organic bins can take a lot more than just food waste. Paper cups, clear plastic biodegradable PLA cups, leaves and flowers, paper towels, napkins and tissues, used paper plates, cardboard cutlery and wooden drink stirrers can all go in the organic bins.
 
Things that should NOT go in the organic bins include liquids, food wrappings (other than paper), plastic plates and cutlery and meat.
 
“Unfortunately, if staff put the wrong things into the organic bin, it means that the entire contents might be treated as mixed waste instead of compostable organic waste,” says Roberto Bonafede, chief of facilities and infrastructure management.

So what happens to this compostable organic waste that makes it so valuable? It turns out that all the organic waste is processed and turned into compost, which farmers can spread on their fields. Which means that effective recycling by FAO staff contributes directly to the production of food and agriculture.
 
In this video, FAO InTouch follows a headquarters coffee cup to find out.