The U.S. produces an estimated 63 million tons of food waste per year. Interest from state and local governments in diverting unused food from landfills to alternative treatment facilities is growing. However, this emerging food waste (FW) stream will face logistics challenges as diversion networks expand. Current methods for evaluating challenges are insufficient for providing solutions for network development because they do not explore the impacts of variability in the food waste management system. This dissertation aims to fill this knowledge gap by exploring three key research areas.

First, variability in FW generation from different types of commercial generators is characterized. Empirically collected data is combined with the prevailing FW estimation method to characterize how generator attributes, temporal variability, and spatial heterogeneity in FW generation could impact development of diversion networks. Results show that representing FW generation from commercial sources in New York State with a single annual value is likely inadequate for policy and planning purposes due to the uncertainty surrounding anticipated FW generation.

Second, two transportation models are presented to understand how variability in spatial locations and generation rates affects FW collection. Results indicate that in residential systems with uniform generation rates, increasing spatial density of participants is critical to reducing service costs. In commercial systems, the inherent heterogeneity of food waste generation rates is important to reduce costs for initial collection services.

Finally, material inputs and digestate management are incorporated into a FW treatment facility siting method. Results show that digestate transportation distance is critical for ensuring that land application of digestate does not overload nearby farm fields with phosphorus. This dissertation contributes to the body of scientific knowledge for waste management through the creation of novel, generalizable methods that investigate the impacts of variability on logistics decisions to inform development of effective food waste management networks.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Food waste--Management; Food waste--Environmental aspects

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Sustainability (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Sustainability (GIS)


Thomas Trabold

Advisor/Committee Member

Anna C. Tyler

Advisor/Committee Member

Roger B. Chen

WArmingtonSupplement.pdf (482 kB)


RIT – Main Campus

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