Rotting Food to Create Collection Glut

Silver Spring, Md. -- Collection operations throughout the "blackout belt" are being hit with a glut of food waste resulting from last week’s power outage throughout parts of the northern East Coast, the Midwest and Canada, according to Dave Helmecki, program manager with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). Conked out coolers and refrigeration systems in homes and, most significantly, businesses have resulted in excessive amounts of spoiled meats and seafood, not to mention all varieties of frozen foods.

"In many areas, fleets are already maxed out," Helmecki says. "But [haulers] may want to consider running extra pickups just for food waste. The whole issue is a public health concern. If you have rotting food sitting out, you run the risk of attracting vermin." The strain, Helmecki says, largely will be felt by collection teams, but transfer stations, compost facilities and scale houses at landfills, likely will be pushing capacity. "The problem could be thought of as running disaster relief," Helmecki says, estimating an additional 15 pounds of garbage will be added to most normal residential loads.