Turning Waste into a Valued Resource
Portland’s B-Line, a sustainable urban transportation service established in 2009, interrupts food destined for the landfill and delivers it to organizations who feed the needy. The “B-shares” program uses 600-pound capacity(!), electric-assisted cargo trikes to collects food from retailers and farmers’ markets and fills in the “last mile” of tricky urban logistics.
Trikes Working Where Trucks Fail
If you’ve lived in a big city, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand why using a truck to collect surplus food from points distributed across a densely populated city would be expensive and time-consuming. It is for that reason that in most places the food is just thrown away. Trikes, however, lack many of the features of trucks that make them challenging to use in a city, but still have great cargo capacity.
Consider the other numerous benefits of this arrangement:
- Combats global warming
- Fewer garbage truck trips are needed to transport this “surplus”, meaning fewer carbon emissions
- Less food is buried in landfills, meaning fewer methane emissions (methane has over 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide)
- Reduces cost for feeding those in need
- Makes use of free food that is already near shelters and soup kitchens
- Does not require the use of expensive trucks
- Allows service organizations to focus on feeding people, not collecting food
- Decreases urban congestion
- Lowers refuse costs for donation partners
- Helps build partnerships and connection between local businesses and service organizations
- Establishes a new model for feeding the hungry
- Creates jobs for bikers!
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