Envisioning a Bold Food Waste Policy for Maine: A Mixed-Methods Study into the Context of Landfill Diversion of Food Waste
Author: Dominique Danielle DiSpirito
Major: Political Science
Graduation Year: 2022
Thesis Advisor: Robert W. Glover
Description of Publication: Landfilled organics waste both natural and financial resources by discarding usable materials that could bolster food security programs and composting efforts. According to the Drawdown Project, one-third of the food we produce in the United States goes to the landfill without ever reaching someone’s plate, contributing to leachate at disposal sites and accounting for more greenhouse gasses than the entire airline industry. As communities across the state struggle to support the 1 in 6 Mainers experiencing food insecurity with dwindling financial resources and limited personnel, food waste diversion provides a local solution that bolsters resilience at low cost. The absence of bold food waste diversion policy in Maine is not due to a lack of successful examples nearby, as Vermont’s recent universal organics recycling policy has seen tremendous success both in diverting more than 53,000 tons of food waste per year and in yielding a 40% increase in food donations. However, Maine faces distinct logistical challenges that complicate efforts to scale up current local food waste diversion efforts such as regional population sparsity and staffing resource constraints. This thesis project examines how Vermont’s Universal Recycling Policy could inspire a path forward to a food waste diversion policy that would work for Maine. The analysis draws upon professional interviews, surveys sent to municipalities, and organizational reports to examine the barriers and assets at play in Maine’s journey toward a bold food waste diversion policy, culminating in suggestions that will work for Mainers.
Location of Publication:
URL to Thesis: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/honors/733