IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016

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Styrophobia was thrilled to work with the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016 piloting a large-scale composting project where all compostables are captured and delivered directly to local farms for composting. From September 1st through 10th, 8,000 people from around the world came together in Honolulu to discuss the perils to our environment, but more importantly, to focus on solutions. We love solutions!

Check out this article on the program!

We worked for a year with the Honolulu Convention Center, local environmental groups, and the IUCN team to work out the processes, permits, logistics, and institutional confidence to create a system in which pre (kitchen) and post-consumer (think collection bin) food scraps and compostable disposables can all be collected from motivated attendees who want to support responsible resource recapture. Sounds so much better than “Waste,” doesn’t it!?

Update: In spite of our best efforts, we did not receive Dept. of Health permitting to compost event food scraps. Instead, pre-consumer food scraps were given to EcoFeed who provide the collected materials to local piggeries. Feeding animals is still a higher and better use than disposal.

Why this matters for Hawaii: 

Depending on the county, the likely fate of food scraps that can no longer feed hungry people is the landfill. Food Scraps rot in the landfill creating Methane. You think CO2 is nasty? Methane is a green house gas 86 times more potent than CO2. Beyond the landfill, food scraps may end up at the waste-to-energy facility or even piggeries. Feeding livestock is clearly superior to landfilling and burning our resources, but we know we can do better if what we want are regenerative, intelligent systems for material management. We know that these resources can be used to build healthy, vibrant soils in support of local food systems and self-sufficiency for Hawaii.

Our Pilot Project Goals:

  1. Demonstrate that, with proper planning and education, food scraps and all compostables can be diverted successfully for all size events, agencies, institutions. Demonstrate that there are mechanisms and small-scale solutions in place for diversion to composting. Demonstration projects are invaluable when discussing policy and feasibility of new systems.
  2. Encourage the creation of small-scale community composting centers, stimulate new business models for resource collection and processing, and highlight an opportunity for  local farmers to generate their own rich compost and fertilizer instead of importing synthetics. Lowering input costs increases farmer livelihood and allows for local foods to be more affordable.
  3. Test the feasibility of a mixed stream of food scraps and single-use compostable cups, utensils, clamshells, etc. being effectively composted — minus the sorting — at local farms. If so….game changer. If a convenient system exists for food waste generators to divert a large portion of expensive conventional waste to a potentially cheaper alternative system, then the case for switching away from single-use plastics is a lot clearer.


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