How much food do you think you throw away each year? As a whole, the EPA estimates that our society wastes more than 36 millions tons annually. Of this amount, 94% ends up in landfills or alternate facilities. The small percentage that is diverted is extremely crucial to the well-being of the environment. Though all areas can benefit from effective waste management, the fragile ecosystem of Cape Cod calls for immediate action. With new legislation in place to separate food waste from general trash, the local community is taking it a step further - enacting the CC Challenger Green Project (CCCGP).

Combining local and organizational talent, the Cape Cod Challenger Club and special needs programs are working together to take note of and collect food waste from cafeterias, workplaces, and homes. Rather than landfills or composting, dehydrated food waste (DFW) is the new frontier. Explained by the CCCGP, this process uses heat and agitation to remove moisture from waste, and then it goes through a machine which “dehydrates it to a fraction of its original volume over a 6-10 hour cycle.” The bi-product is nutrient dense, organic, and multi-purpose. From start to finish, special needs participants run the operation. As they create a healthier environment, they also gain valuable vocational skills, job opportunities, and traction for increased communal stewardship.

Additional benefits to the community include:

-A reduction in methane emissions from landfills which equates to a smaller carbon footprint.
-Additional energy and resources saved from the traditional landfilling process.
-Preservation of the beautiful Cape Cod landscape as less is required for landfills and waste processing.
-Reduction in bacteria and need for fresh water as heat is the main input in the process.

This process and program being harnessed by the CC Challenger Green Project shows that environmental improvements are in progress and that a team effort results in a “cleaner, greener, and better place to live!” On an industrial scale, companies are beginning to work towards creating dehydrators that are efficient and cost-effective for mass quantities, offering potential for more widespread improvements. Being able to use this type of machinery on a work site can reduce energy costs and usage, processing time, and transportation pollution and hauling costs, all while achieving sustainability goals.
As these industrial advancements are under way, Cape Cod and its special needs community are adopting similar tactics and goals early on, creating a more promising future ahead. To see how you can get involved, donate, or support Cape’s physically, intellectually and developmentally challenged population, visit CCCGP’s website, our Facebook page, or call (508) 420-6950 ext. 1136.