In the past couple of weeks, we have seen dozens of food service businesses and retailers join the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Food Recovery Challenge”. The objective of this EPA initiative is to encourage food businesses to find more sustainable ways to treat their extra food rather than throwing it in the trash. According to the EPA, in 2010 35 million tons of food went uneaten, and 97 percent of this amount went to rot in our landfills. Discarded food is the highest waste category by volume in American landfills, filling 21% of total landfill space. Businesses around the United States are increasingly making better decisions about how to handle their extra food, thanks in part to this EPA initiative. While this is a positive trend overall, we’ve noticed that many businesses are focusing mostly, or solely, on composting, rather than donating extra food to local food pantries or charities.
On the EPA’s “Food Recovery Challenge” webpage, the following “Food Recovery Hierarchy” is featured:
While composting is a waste-reduction strategy, it is second last on the Food Recovery Hierarchy, while feeding people is the second best food recovery scenario.
We acknowledge that a great deal of extra food is not suitable for donations, and we certainly do not want to criticize businesses for composting or utilizing any other of the strategies on this hierarchy. Rather, we want to encourage businesses to take their positive change to the next level and explore the option of donating their surplus food. There are a lot of great organizations across America that specialize in recovering perishable food.
Food Donation Connection is an international organization working with over 13,000 restaurants in the USA and Canada. Contact them to learn how you can get involved!
If your business is located in the Phoenix Metro Area, you can also contact FlashFood to join our first network of food donors, or just to ask us questions about food recovery. We look forward to hearing from you!
Keep up the good work everyone!