Nicole VanWort, MS, BS

Document Type


Publication Date



Every year, there is approximately 1.3 trillion tons of food waste sent to the landfill that breakdowns anaerobically releasing approximately 3.3 trillion tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, with methane being the most detrimental contribution to climate change. In response to landfill greenhouse gas concerns, the EPA created the Food Waste Hierarchy, a list of six potential ways to divert food out of the landfill. Amongst this list is composting through aerobic and anaerobic digestion. In 2016, Rhode Island enacted a commercial food waste ban for food producers creating over a hundred and four tons of waste per year. With only one anaerobic digestor and one aerobic digestor in the state at the time, most food waste producers are exempt from the ban due to how far they are from available digestors. The main barriers to expansion in Rhode Island are a lack of infrastructure and support due to lack of funding and lack of ban enforcement, the insufficient number of available composters and digestors, outdated municipal zoning regulations, lack of education on composting, and how it can help Rhode Island reach its food security goals. Creating a statewide composting education program, updating municipal zoning laws, establishing subsidies for low-income families, and creating a transition program for food producers to understand their resources to aerobic and anaerobic digestors is crucial for Rhode Island to meet its zero food waste goals of 2040.

Faculty Mentor

Branden Lewis, Ed.D., MBA, CEC

Academic Discipline

College of Food Innovation & Technology



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