Four New England Organizations Recognized for Reducing Food Waste
Projects in Boston, Martha's Vineyard, and Wilton, Conn.
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding four local New England organizations with recognition for their work keeping wasted food out of landfills and incinerators and putting it to better use. The New England groups were among 18 businesses and organizations nationally recognized for significant achievements under EPA's Food Recovery Challenge program in 2020 and 2021.
For efforts in 2020, EPA recognized Wilton Conn. Public Schools (Newcomer category); Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, Mass; Medical Services category); and Martha's Vineyard Regional High School - Island Grown Schools (K-12 Schools category). For efforts in 2021, EPA recognized Lovin' Spoonfuls of Boston, Mass. as an Honorable Mention in both the Leadership, and the Education and Outreach categories.
"The EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award winners demonstrate how preventing food waste and diverting excess wholesome food away from landfills and to people is important for the environment and for communities," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Their accomplishments serve as excellent examples to other companies, governments, organizations and communities, particularly because food is the single largest category of waste. We have an obligation to follow the lead of our award winners, not only for the sake of 35 million food-insecure Americans, but also to prevent emissions that contribute to climate change."
The awards are part of EPA's Food Recovery Challenge (FRC). Nationally, during 2020 and 2021, FRC partners prevented about 1.2 million tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving $61.5 million in avoided tipping fees, and reducing the amount of wasted food contributing to methane emissions associated with climate change.
"EPA is very pleased to recognize these New England businesses and organizations for doing excellent work preventing food waste and providing excess food to people in need," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "More wasted food reaches landfills and combustion facilities than any other single material in our everyday trash. The actions undertaken by these New England organizations sets a powerful example for other businesses and institutions to save money, help feed people in need, and reduce impacts of solid waste disposal."
In 2020, EPA New England worked with 59 New England-based Food Recovery Challenge participants to reduce wasted food, by diverting nearly 44,000 tons of food for donation, animal feed, anerobic digestion, composting or as source reduction i.e. not making waste in the first place 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 to compete for recognition.
Food is a valuable resource. Efforts to reduce food waste and ensure excess food doesn't go to waste are needed now more than ever. Nationally, nearly 600 businesses, governments and organizations actively participated in the FRC 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. In the most recent reporting cycle, FRC partners prevented or diverted about 1.2 million tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving up to $61.5 million in avoided landfill tipping fees. Data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percentage increases in food waste diversion in their sector comparing year-to-year data. Narrative award winners achieved notable progress in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach, and endorsement of sustainable management of food.
Each year in the United States, 73 to 152 million metric tons of food is lost or wasted during all stages of the food supply chain (from primary production to consumption), according to the EPA's November 2021 report, From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, communities, and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport it. Preventing food waste and keeping food and other organics out of landfills mitigates climate change, as an estimated eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from wasted food. At the same time, uneaten food contains enough calories to feed more than 150 million people each year, far more than the 35 million estimated food insecure Americans.
Best practices used by FRC awardees to reduce wasted food in their operations, in addition to actions taken by individuals and communities, keep wasted food from landfills. Their actions also bring the United States closer to meeting the re-aligned national goal with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030.
Food Recovery Challenge national and regional award winners: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-results-and-award-winners
National food loss and waste reduction goal: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/call-action-stakeholders-united-states-food-loss-waste-2030-reduction