Editorial: Walsh’s food bill is necessary

Sun, 01/26/2014 - 3:00pm

It’s one thing to say something needs to be done. It’s another to take the steps to accomplish it.

That’s why we praise State Representative Donna Walsh on her efforts to increase food waste recycling in Rhode Island.

Last week, Walsh proposed new legislation that would require Rhode Island businesses to separate their food waste from other trash and then recycle it. This would affect larger businesses first, such as universities and colleges, and eventually apply to all commercial entities by the year 2021.

This may seem a long way away, but its predicted that Rhode Island’s central landfill in Johnston will be full in 25 years, according to Sarah Kite of Rhode Resource Recovery Corporation of R.I. It would be too easy to ignore this inevitable threat because it won’t happen until 2039; but why put off a decision until it’s too late and circumstances become more dire? This is often the case in government; take climate change (all jokes aside) and overpopulation as examples. The United States is too far behind other industrialized nations in dealing with its waste products. So good for Donna Walsh for offering an answer to this challenge.

There’s still a lot to be done. Facilities need to be built to accommodate the recycling needs of all the businesses that will participate. And we’d like to see a bill proposed that addresses residential food waste. But this is a good first step — it gets the conversation going. As Sarah Kite said, “No one wants to talk about trash, but we all make it.”

We urge the legislature to pass this bill and to continue this very important conversation, both on and off the island, about how to reduce the amount of trash we simply throw away so that it can be put to better use.