Background/Question/Methods As human activities have become more intertwined with natural systems, it is increasingly important to understand explicit dynamic linkages between the two complex systems. Traditionally, waste systems (whether chemical byproducts, municipal, agricultural residues, etc.) were viewed through the lens of contaminants and potential disruptions to natural systems. With the advent of socio-ecological systems approaches and a focus on creating circular economies, there is increased interest in reinventing waste systems as sources of raw material for improving the output of biological and industrial system processes. This research examines the system of industrial organic waste recovery in the United State by relying on the first national-level survey of organic waste processing recovering facilities across the United States. It looks at primary sources of feedstock, challenges to the industry, and the primary bioproducts being developed at organic waste processing facilities, among others.
Results/Conclusions Preliminary analysis suggests there is a mix of economic and policy drivers determining the location and feedstock for organic waste facilities. The rising problem of municipal waste disposal costs is a primary driver in densely populated urban areas, while rural organic waste processing facilities tend to be co-located with agricultural or forestry waste sources. The dominate challenge to the industry is maintain operating costs for facilities, although emerging issues include new types of contaminants to organic waste processes and new pollutants such as PFAS. The primary waste bioproducts is compost, distributed to a mix of agricultural, municipal, and household uses, however several clusters of organic waste innovation are identified in coastal urban areas. The presentation concludes with observations on the likely trajectory of organic waste recovery systems, challenges to the industry, and new research needed.