by Brianna Crandall — December 9, 2016 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognized the accomplishments of 13 organizations and businesses participating in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.
In 2015, more than 800 governments, businesses and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. Participants include organizations such as grocers, restaurants, educational institutions, and sports and entertainment venues, who together kept more than 690,000 tons of food from being wasted. These efforts reduced carbon emissions equivalent to taking approximately 86,000 cars off the road for a year and saved businesses up to $35 million in avoided waste disposal fees.
Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, stated:
The waste reduction efforts of this year’s award winners, as well as all Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers, are leading the way for the United States to meet the national goal to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030. These Food Recovery Challenge award winners are reducing food loss and waste within their communities to make America a healthier, more sustainable nation. They are leading by example and have reduced their climate footprint, helped communities and achieved cost savings by taking actions based on EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy and sustainable materials management best practices.
In the United States, wasted food carries significant economic and environmental costs, says EPA. Food accounts for the largest share of the municipal waste stream, with roughly 77 billion pounds discarded each year. The estimated value of food that goes uneaten each year is $161.6 billion, costing the average family up to $1,500. Uneaten food and other organic materials in landfills decompose and generate methane, a significantly harmful greenhouse gas. Landfills are one of the largest sources of methane emissions produced from human activity.
To reduce their food waste, Food Recovery Challenge participants use creative practices such as:
- Recovering food from farmers’ markets;
- Creating food waste volunteer programs in high schools;
- Giving college students the option to choose what goes on their plates;
- Using tools to improve portion control and meal forecasting; and
- Adding infrastructure to more efficiently distribute perishable produce.
EPA recognizes Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers with awards in two categories: data-driven and narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percent increases in their sector comparing year-to-year data. Narrative award winners excelled in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach and endorsement.
EPA recognized the following 2016 Food Recovery Challenge national award winners:
Data-driven Improvement by Sector Winners:
- Colleges and Universities: Ursinus College (Collegeville, PA)
- K-12 Schools: Lanikai School (Kailua, HI)
- Grocers: Sprouts Farmers Market — 205 (Claremont, CA)
- Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Goodkind (Milwaukee, WI)
- Sports and Entertainment Venues: Chumash Casino Resort (Santa Ynez, CA)
- Hotels, Resorts, and Lodging: Ortega National Parks, LLC — Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company (Carlsbad, NM)
- Newcomer: Sprouts Farmers Market — 286 (La Habra, CA)
- Other Sector: Town of New Paltz (New Paltz, NY)
Narrative Category Winners:
- Source Reduction: University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
- Leadership: Sodexo (Gaithersburg, MD)
- Innovation: Food Forward (Los Angeles, CA)
- Education and Outreach: Ramona High School (Ramona, CA)
- Endorsers: Northeast Recycling Council (Brattleboro, VT)
To learn more, read Mathy Stanislaus’ blog “Recognizing Leaders in Food Waste Reduction this Holiday Season.” For more information on Food Recovery Challenge results and award winners or on the 2030 national food loss and waste reduction goal, visit the EPA Web site.