PSU partners with Port of Portland to eliminate nearly 2,700 tons of food waste

Portland State Community Environmental Services graduate student Monica Fleisher met with local press on Thursday, Dec. 14 at Portland International Airport to announce the success of a recent research collaboration between PSU and the Port of Portland to reduce around 2,700 tons of food waste at PDX.

Fleisher was joined by Lisa Appel, Port of Portland’s Environmental Outreach Manager, and Russell Spees from Elephants Deli, a local food vendor partnering with research efforts for eliminating food waste.

The Port employs students like Fleisher to conduct research on their behalf, as the objective of the study is directly affiliated with PSU’s CES program: providing specialized skill sets for improving the Port’s initiative for best business practices.

The Port-funded research study began in 2003 where consumer spending and food waste data have been collected to increase sustainable waste management practices and the efficiency providing of grab-and-go food services.

Partnered with the efforts of PSU’s CES students, nearly 2,700 tons of food waste has been reduced through compost and recycling services in addition to recent food donation efforts.

According to Appel, 147.3 tons of food have been donated and distributed to over 40 locations in the Portland Metro area since 2013 thanks to Urban Gleaners, a local non-profit organization. The amount of food donated is near the equivalent of donating 196,337 meals.

Currently, 12 other food vendors at PDX participate in food donation toward waste elimination, although Elephants Deli is the sole participant in providing data for the Port.

Recorded post-consumer waste is transferred to the JC Biomethane Biogas Plant in Junction City, Ore., where food waste is used to produce biogas and generate electricity. On average, 24 tons of food waste is hauled to Junction City per month with an annual total of 284 tons.