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Pilot program aims to save food waste from landfills

Every day, hundreds of tons of food are thrown away in San Mateo County. Not composted—thrown away.

“The reality is people aren’t very good at separating food waste,” said Hilary Gans, senior facilities manager at the waste management authority RethinkWaste. Organic waste makes up a third of all garbage collected in the county, he said: more than any other category. All that tossed food piles up in landfills, where it decomposes and releases harmful methane gas into the atmosphere.

A new device, however, could pull those numbers way down. It’s a big, green, $5 million machine called an OREX.

“It’s kind of like a garlic press,” Gordon Tong, program director of waste reduction at the county Office of Sustainability, said of the device, adding, “except all the stuff that oozes out of it is organics.”

Basically, he said, you load up the OREX, or “Organic Extrusion Press,” with garbage, and it separates out the organic waste — the food and compost — from everything else.

Read the full story by Matthew Vollrath on The Almanac here.