Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

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Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2011.


In 2009, food waste in the United States comprised 14.1% of municipal solid waste, the third largest category after paper and yard trimmings. With food scraps and other organics dominating a large portion of the waste stream, cities across the United States and Canada are slowly adopting organics diversion programs as they learn of the feasibility and paybacks of these programs on a municipal scale. The first part of this capstone examines existing trends in the development and execution of organics programs, including a few precedent examples, as well as techniques to motivate participation among residents. The second portion of this capstone explores the benefits and drawbacks of three viable organics recycling scenarios currently available to municipalities. These options include: increasing the use of food waste disposers in kitchens, developing a community-based network of composting sites, and implementing a city-wide curbside collection program. While these programs can be applied to any city, the third portion of this capstone looks at data specific to Philadelphia because Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan, includes a goal to divert 70% of solid waste from landfills by 2015. In the end, these organics recycling options are all feasible within Philadelphia, or any municipality, and this capstone provides the foundation for a city to make an educated decision as to which program would best fit the needs of its residents.



Date Posted: 29 November 2011