Larger food waste management plans will be announced soon, the mayor said.

The Oahu Compost Project is expanding in the Chinatown area in its bid to turn up to 5,000 pounds of food waste into compost every week, doubling the number of participating restaurants to six.

The project, which has been in development since last year, received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, City and County of Honolulu and in-kind donations from Aloha Harvest, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Zero Waste Oahu.

The pilot project, given an official launch Tuesday, will inform future wide-scale composting operations throughout the island, where food constitutes 20% of the waste stream.

The project is taking food scraps from the kitchens in Chinatown, sending them to a Waimanalo composting farm and selling the byproduct to be used in landscaping, gardening and farming, and relieve the need for imported fertilizers and composts.

  • ‘Hawaii Grown’ Special Series

The project also focuses on diverting edible foods, through its work with Aloha Harvest, which collects edible food waste destined for the trash.

Aloha Harvest executive director Phil Acosta said the food it was collecting from the restaurants represented about a 10% increase in its food donations — it received 3.4 million pounds of food from grocery stores and restaurants last year.

County Food Security & Sustainability Program Manager Dexter Kishida says the project will hopefully contribute to its blueprint for addressing issues related to climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 30% and 40% of all food produced nationally is never eaten.

Given the lion’s share of Hawaii’s food is shipped into the state, if Hawaii follows the EPA’s estimates, it is wasting a “heck of a lot” of food, Kishida said.

But diverting the food to those who need it, or using it to fuel the state’s nascent agricultural industry is a good way of making sure it’s not wasted, Kishida added.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi says the project is just a precursor for larger food waste management plans for the County, which would be announced in coming weeks.

“Residents can anticipate that we’re going to dramatically change how we’re going to treat our food waste,” Blangiardi said at the press conference.

Hawaii Grown” is funded in part by grants from the Stupski Foundation, Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Frost Family Foundation.

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