Semester of Graduation

May 2019


Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The 2017 Climate Action for a Resilient New Orleans report strives to divert 50 percent of waste by 2030. In the same year, waste companies had only managed to divert 5 percent of the total annual waste in Orleans Parish. Nearly a decade away from 2030, city officials have not even tested or implemented strategies to reach this goal. While city officials scramble to launch pilot projects, community and grassroots organizations center around recovering and transforming garbage and food waste. Using interviews and surveys with food-waste organizers from May to August 2018, this paper reveals that managing food-waste on a local scale contributes to the circulation and metabolization of resources in New Orleans. Nearly 100 restaurants, cafes, markets, grocery stores, offices, and hotels in Orleans Parish partner with community organizations to separate their food waste. The food-waste either feeds animals on urban farms, becomes compost soil, and if packaged and edible, is distributed to food banks and food insecure families. In the organizers’ pursuit to divert waste from landfills, they create jobs, gain personal wealth, and transform waste into new commodities or resources. This paper views the city in terms of its sustainable urban metabolism, explaining the different scales in which waste reduction and recovery occurs in New Orleans.

Committee Chair

Craig Colten