EPA Recognizes Philadelphia Department of Prisons for Diverting Food Waste from Landfills
PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 27, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is recognizing the City of Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) as a national awardee in the Government and Tribal category of its Food Recovery Challenge (FRC).
In 2019 PDP diverted more than 555,000 pounds of wasted food to compost, which saved the city approximately $19,000 in landfill fees. The composted material was donated to community gardens and church groups, as well as returned to grounds for use in PDP’s orchard and greenhouses. Before composting at the PDP, the department sent food waste to local landfills or industrial garbage disposals.
“This program enables participants to give back to the community, while obtaining new skills for potential job opportunities upon release,” said Laura Cassidy, PDP Director of Sustainability Operations.
PDP also partnered with Food Connect, a nonprofit organization and partner of Philabundance. Food Connect uses smart technology to pool resources and make deliveries efficient. They distribute organically grown food from the PDP Orchard Program to local food pantries. PDP is currently working with EPA to develop internal policies and procedures for distributing food produced at PDP facilities.
“EPA congratulates the Philadelphia Department of Prisons and all of the Food Recovery Challenge partners for their notable achievements and innovative approaches to reduce food waste in their operations,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “By addressing food waste, there is an opportunity to lower our carbon footprint and increase climate resilience, while also addressing inequities in food security and public health.
Through the FRC, EPA has worked with organizations and businesses for the past decade to set data-driven goals, implement targeted strategies to reduce wasted food in their operations, and report results. During 2019 and 2020, FRC national awardees implemented innovative approaches and practical, cost-effective best practices to prevent and reduce wasted food. Best practices included waste audits and included custom pallet building to maintain flexibility for those picking up recovered food. Many FRC national awardees provided much-needed food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 600 businesses, governments and organizations actively participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2020-2021. Since the launch of the program in 2011, FRC partners prevented and diverted over 5.5 million tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators. In the most recent reporting cycle, FRC partners prevented or diverted about 1.2 million tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving partners up to $61.5 million in landfill tipping fees.