Learn About the Food Recovery Challenge
We are grateful for the dedication of our Food Recovery Challenge partners and their efforts to reduce and divert waste. EPA is planning to evolve our Sustainable Materials Management partnership programs to align with our new priorities. At this time, we are no longer accepting Food Recovery Challenge partners.
On this page:
- About the Food Recovery Challenge
- Awards Process
- Eligibility Criteria
- Evaluation Criteria and Selection Process
- Awards Recognition
EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge was a voluntary incentive program in which organizations and businesses set data-driven goals, implemented targeted strategies to reduce wasted food in their operations, and reported results to compete for annual recognition from EPA. Organizations and businesses could join as participants or endorsers and were encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food. Those actions include source reduction, donation, feeding animals, industrial uses, and composting.
The Food Recovery Challenge, as part of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, encouraged organizations to use materials more productively over their entire lifecycle. Working together, we can promote the value of reducing wasted food and encourage organizations to make informed decisions and use approaches to divert and prevent food from entering landfills.
Find out more about:
Recognition is a key element of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program and the Food Recovery Challenge. To learn more about past Food Recovery Challenge awardees, visit the Awards webpage.
Food Recovery Challenge awards are given in two categories:
Data Driven Awards: Given to participants only, these awards were based on the percent change of an organization’s data compared to its previous year data.
Narrative Awards: Given to both participants and endorsers, these awards were based on applications. Narrative awards were given in the following categories:
- Source reduction (participants only)
- Education and Outreach
- Endorser (endorsers only)
- Only U.S.-based organizations and businesses are eligible.
- Only activities conducted since an applicant's last award are eligible.
- Previous awardees and applicants are eligible but will be judged based on their activities since the last award cycle.
To be eligible for a data-driven award, a participant must do the following:
- Join the Food Recovery Challenge before January 1 of the previous calendar year. (‘Newcomer’ data-driven awards may be considered for those joining in the previous calendar year.)
- Submit a participation agreement and two consecutive years of annual data, including goals, by the designated date.
To be eligible for a narrative award, a participant or endorser must do the following:
- Submit a participation agreement and your annual data and goals by the designated date.
- Submit a narrative award application by the designated date.
EPA reviewed and evaluated all data and award applications submitted by the annual designated deadline. Finalists needed to pass EPA civil and criminal compliance screening in order to be selected.
EPA used a weighted calculation to evaluate data entered by participants. The calculation was based on participants’ reported activities and where the activity taken by the participant falls on the Food Recovery Hierarchy. For example, source reduction, as the most preferred activity on the Food Recovery Hierarchy, is given the highest weight. Other activities are weighted accordingly, based on their place on the Hierarchy.
Each narrative award category included a set of questions with associated percentages. Award applications are evaluated by a panel, scored and ranked. In addition to responses included in the narrative award applications, awardees were selected based on results of both civil and criminal enforcement screens and other qualitative factors.
Food Recovery Challenge awardees were recognized annually on the Awards webpage, in addition to other outreach that may include a press release and social media.