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Distributed Food Waste Recycling to Regenerate Our Soils, Communities, and Planet

Instead of hauling "away" food waste, recycle it on-site where dumpsters once stood and use food delivery vehicles to bring it back to farms

Photo of Jeffrey Neal
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Loop Closing

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Food service providers - Farm at Kelly Miller, DC Central Kitchen, Howard University, Rhapsody Condominium, Gallaudet University and Bon Appetite. Farmers - One Acre Farm's Michael Protas. DC Govt - Dept Parks and Recreation, Dept of Public Works, Council Members and staff. Technical Partners - Institute for Local Self-Reliance, ReFED, Compost Crew, Pluvr, Compost Cab, Pluvr, DC Environmental Network, DC Food Recovery Working Group, and Dreaming Out Loud Funders - Echoing Green, Claneil Foundation, Clif Bar

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Washington, DC

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Washington, DC metropolitan area and the farmer shed that feeds this area.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Born and raised and living here.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

To meet meaningful waste reduction or zero waste goals, we need more capacity for food waste recycling: composting or anaerobic digestion. The US is stuck around 5% capacity with hurdles preventing any significant increase. The historic focus has been on developing centralized and large industrial waste processing facilities for hauling food waste to. It’s not expanding in capacity as needed because permitting, zoning, environmental compliance, acquiring large plots of land and hauling is either too restrictive or costly to build enough of these systems. In the rare case all of these hurdles are overcome, the ultimate killer of "neighbor resistance" either stops or closes these industrial facilities. The UN predicts in 55 years all soil on earth will be gone based on current practices.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Where trash cans and dumpsters once stood we place composting machines at food waste producing organizations like restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, churches, office complexes, multi-unit residences, etc. This existing space of trash rooms, alleys, garages, etc that are already being used for placing food waste would be repurposed and no new land required. There are many local uses for this finished compost to regenerate our soils and environment. Also, food delivery vehicles that once returned empty could bring the finished compost back to the farms they started from. This closes the ecological loop, sustainably growing our next crops while regenerating our farm soils that the UN predicts will all be gone from the planet in 55 years if the current trends continue. This is the change we need and what we currently spend hauling food waste away could fund this while providing benefits at many levels: climate crisis, quality of life, community empowerment, environmental justice, and healthy soils needed to support human life on earth.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.


Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?


How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Conference/event


Join the conversation:

Photo of Village Development  Center (VDC)

Thank you so much for the Food Extension Initiative.

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