Philadelphia: USA

The “Clean Kitchen/Green Community” initiative targeted food waste from Philadelphia’s homes. Philadelphia residents were advised that the use of a food waste disposer – estimated to be already installed in nearly one-half of houses and apartments – is an environmentally beneficial way to keep food scraps out of refuse trucks and landfills, and will save the City money.


A city-wide education and rebate campaign was completed to encourage all Philadelphia residents to purchase and install a disposer, or upgrade an existing one. An additional initiative directly tested the reduction in waste from households when a disposer is installed and effectively used in 100 homes. The City tested the volume and composition of waste generated by those areas before, during and after the pilot, and the results have now been reported on.

A total of 173 households from two neighbourhoods participated in the food waste disposer project.  The final waste audit found that residents reduced the weight of the food waste in their garbage by 34% - some 1.4 pounds less food waste per household per week.

If the entire City of Philadelphia utilised food waste disposers in homes and apartments similar to the target areas, potential benefits to the City could include:

  • Reduction of residential food waste by 19,000 tons annually
  • Reduction of waste disposal fees by $1.1 million annually
  • Increased biogas production by the Philadelphia Water

For full details download the report here. 

This initiative forms part of a wider project in which, between 2012 and 2015, trials took place across five cities - Chicago, Philadelphia, Tacoma, Milwaukee, and Boston – to gauge the impact of food waste disposers on the residual waste.  Each of the cities shared the goals of organics diversion from the solid waste stream and increasing resource recovery at their wastewater treatment plant.

On average food waste disposer use reduced the amount of discarded food waste by over 30%.  At that rate, after a 3 year period of disposer use, nearly a full year’s worth of food waste would be kept out of landfills. 

For full details read the report.

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