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Danni (McPherron) Schaust

Indiana University Bloomington, MS
EREF Scholar 2016

A Growing Food Waste Problem: Bridging the gap between wasted resources and wasted food.  An in-depth exploration into the challenges, opportunities, infrastructure and policies need to improve food waste recovery activities in the U.S.Project Description:
In September 2015, the U.S. EPA announced the Nation’s “first-ever food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50% reduction by 2030.” Food waste reduction is the next frontier of sustainable materials management. The U.S. lags behind many other countries in this respect, leaving it uniquely positioned to lead the way as organizations and individuals tackle these issues head-on in the years to come. Many organizations have already taken the plunge to decrease their carbon footprint and feed hungry people, but there are many organizations interested in this work who lack the resources needed to make an impact.

The gap between the necessary infrastructure and the stakeholders interested in improving the food waste reduction is where the biggest opportunity lies in order to reduce food waste. The Indiana Food Scrap Initiative (IFSI) and the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, among many others, have been working to close these gaps over the past few years. Danni’s research will build on the work of these organizations and others to quantify food waste sources, identify best management practices (BMPs) and model projects, map existing infrastructure and identify gaps, identify model regulatory policies, and make recommendations for addressing infrastructure gaps and identify economic development opportunities.

The objectives of this research are to (1) quantify the available supply of food waste by sectors in local and regional markets; (2) map existing collection and processing infrastructure; (3) identify upstream and downstream barriers to food waste composting; (4) identify BMPs for food waste composting; (4) identify sector-based model projects available for replication by industries, institutions, businesses, communities, etc.; (5) recommend model state regulations and local ordinances to create a supportive climate for place-based food waste composting activities, and (6) help produce a framework to guide place-based local and regional food composting efforts.

Danni (McPherron) Schaust holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Environmental Management and Spanish from Indiana University-Bloomington. Since 2014, Danni has been employed by the Indiana Recycling Coalition and held various positions including helping to plan their annual educational Conference and the fundraising gala, REVENT; managing the IRC’s public space recycling & composting work including the 2014 and 2015 Indiana State Fair, as well as the 2015 and 2016 500 Festival; grant writing; legislative assistance, and much more. Her recent work has been to support and build the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative, an initiative of the Indiana Recycling Coalition that explores the issues surrounding food waste and composting to build a more comprehensive infrastructure to address Indiana’s food scrap problem.

Currently, she is the Project Lead for the Student Recycling Leadership Corps, an Indiana high school scholarship program designed to encourage and increase public space recycling efforts around the State. During her undergraduate career, Danni interned for the IU Office of Sustainability and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Her passion for recycling and sustainable materials management began as a teenager, when she started the paper recycling program at her high school. Danni is currently pursuing an MPA at Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).