This is one of those stories that’s both inspiring and frustrating. In Iowa, Daniel Burgess, 13, his brother, Andrew Burgess, 11, and Ethan Trepka, 12, three middle school students, proposed legislation that would curb food waste from restaurants sent to landfills.

The three boys had been part of team of youth in Iowa City that helped to conduct waste audits at a couple of local restaurants. They found that only about 25 percent of the waste that could have composted actually did get composted. The rest was sent to a landfill where it was destined to become methane gas that contributes to climate change.

The bill passed the Iowa Senate 26-22. That’s where the inspiring part of this story ends. In the Iowa senate there are 26 Democrats and 22 Republicans. And, as you can easily guess, all of the Democrats voted for the bill; all of the Republicans voted against it. When the bill moves to the Republican dominated house, chances are it will be voted down.

The Des Moines Register reports Republicans aren’t the only ones opposing the bill. It’s also opposed by McDonald’s and the American Forest & Paper Association.

The legislation would require the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to promote the reduction and recovery of excess food items on a large scale, including uneaten food and food scraps, and oils, fats and other food preparation products.
So I’m perplexed as to why McDonald’s would be opposing the bill. Until I read that part, I thought perhaps McDonald’s workers would have to dig through customer trash for uneaten food to send to the compost. I can see why that would go opposed. But this bill seems to be for food and oils from the kitchen, not uneaten customer food. I’m very curious to know why McDonald’s would oppose that.

I’m going to choose to focus on the inspiring part of this story. Three boys – the same ages as my boys – went before their state legislature and testified for this bill. Those are some impressive kids. I hope this this doesn’t discourage them and that they continue to fight for a sustainable future.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Iowa middle schoolers propose food waste legislation
Republicans, McDonald’s and the American Forest & Paper Association oppose a bill that would curb food waste sent to landfills.