New England Institutions Recognized for Diverting Food Waste
BOSTON, MA – Four New England organizations were among only 14 organizations honored nationally by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their success in keeping wasted food out of landfills. EPA is also issuing “Food Recovery Challenge Regional Achievement Certificates” to 24 organizations in all six New England states.
Americans throw out more food than any other type of waste. In 2013, 37 million tons of food waste were generated, of which only 1.84 million tons (5 percent) were recovered, resulting in 35 million tons going into the nation’s landfills.
The Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) won EPA’s National Food Recovery Challenge Endorser Award for leading food recovery outreach and technical assistance efforts in the Commonwealth and for its direction of the Recyclingworks MA program administered by the Center for EcoTechnology.
Salem State University in Salem, MA, won the Award for the highest percent increase in wasted food prevention and diversion by a College or University.
Clark University (dining services managed by Sodexo) in Worcester, MA, won an Honorable Mention for reducing food waste at the source.
Keene State College in Keene, NH, won the award for the best educational and outreach campaign.
“The hard work and commitment from our New England-based Food Recovery Challenge awardees is demonstrating that protecting the environment, saving money and feeding the hungry can go hand in hand,” says Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s good old-fashioned common sense that we should use food to feed people and not landfills.”
“The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is proud to receive U.S. EPA’s National Food Recovery Challenge Endorser Award for our program to reuse, recycle and compost food waste from commercial entities across the Commonwealth,” says MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We also are pleased to see so many Massachusetts institutions recognized as national leaders for their efforts to divert food waste from disposal.”
New England Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted over 38,000 tons of food to donation and/or composting in 2014. The following New England colleges and universities are receiving a “Regional Food Recovery Achievement Certificate” for their work reducing food waste:
Wesleyan University, Middletown
Lesley University, Cambridge
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay
Northeastern University, Boston
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Wellesley College, Wellesley
Colby College, Waterville
University of Maine, Farmington
University of Maine, Orono
University of Southern Maine, Portland
University of New Hampshire, Durham
Johnson & Wales University in Providence
November is EPA’s Food Recovery Month of Action and is also the beginning of the holiday “season of giving” in the U.S. With the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of the month, the nation focuses on food, donation and helping those in greatest need that may not have the abundance so many of us are afforded.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 14 percent of American households were uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all of their members at some time during 2013. In many cases, the food tossed into our nation’s landfills is wholesome, edible food.
Food waste is the largest stream of materials in our landfills, accounting for 21 percent of the American waste stream. Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the generation of harmful gases that contribute to climate change. When food is disposed of in a landfill, it decomposes rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Food and food scraps not fit for consumption can be used to feed the soil by composting or added to anaerobic digestion facilities, which produce biogas that can be used for energy.
EPA is working to solve the wasted food problem and provide assistance to families, communities, organizations and businesses through our Sustainable Management of Food initiatives. The Food Recovery Challenge for which these organizations are being recognized is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials throughout its entire lifecycle. Organizations setting food waste reduction goals under the Food Recovery Challenge are helping to achieve the United States’ first-ever national wasted food reduction goal – a 50 percent reduction goal by 2030. EPA is working with many partners to reduce wasted food. In 2014, EPA's Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators. Of this total, more than 88,500 tons of food was donated to feed people in need.
More information on EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: http://www2.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food.