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RIT researchers look for ways to manage food waste

RIT professors and staff are involved in an effort to find solutions to the huge amounts of food waste generated in New York State and across the U.S.

Associate Professor of Sustainability Callie Babbitt is part of a grant-funded project looking at ways of dealing with food waste in a more sustainable manner.

Babbit, who is with RIT's Golisano Instsitute for Sustainability, is working with a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

She says that food waste is really a global problem.

“It’s one of the biggest fractions of our waste stream in terms of the material that we send to landfills, food waste is the biggest part of that; we actually only recycle about 5 to 6 percent of it across the United States,” Babbitt explained.

Babbitt says among the ways that food waste can be dealt with, is by diverting it into energy uses, such as creating biogas.

“One of our goals is to look at ways of diverting food waste from the landfill and putting it into beneficial applications, we’re you’re actually able to recover the energy and water from it, and put those back into use in New York state,” Babbitt said.

Babbitt also notes that New York State is ahead of the curve compared to some other states on this issue. Just this year, state lawmakers approved new requirements for handling excess food that could help reduce the state’s carbon footprint and direct more healthy food to disadvantaged New Yorkers.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.