Fighting Food Waste: Reduction & Donation

September 22, 2016 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Washington, DC (and webinar)

This event is cosponsored by the District of Columbia Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section

An ELI Public Seminar

Wasted food presents a major environmental, economic, and social challenge in the United States. These losses are significant, as U.S. consumers spend nearly $218 billion a year on food that is never eaten. With agricultural activities producing an estimated one third of global carbon emissions, food production also has a major environmental impact.

In 2015, the U.S. EPA and USDA announced a goal to reduce domestic food loss, aiming to halve the total waste by 2030. In the hierarchy of food waste recovery options, the highest priority activity is reducing waste, followed by donating food, diverting food residuals for animal feed production and other industrial uses, and sending the remaining waste to composting facilities or anaerobic digesters, rather than landfills and incinerators.

Although the U.S. has provided tax incentives for food donation, the cost of implementation has hindered the creation of laws specifically mandating food donations, like those in France. However, law and policy is beginning to reflect the need for food waste reduction. Congresswoman Pingree recently introduced the Food Date Labeling Act of 2016 and the Food Recovery Act of 2015. In April 2016, ReFED, a collaboration of over thirty business, nonprofit, foundation, and government leaders, produced a “roadmap” to reduce U.S. food waste.

In this first event of a two-part series, our panel discussed innovations in waste reduction, including policy tools, packaging and onsite processes, food donation schemes, and issues in food labeling.

Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute (moderator)
Kelliann Blazek, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Carrie Calvert, Director of Tax and Commodity Policy, Feeding America
Meghan Stasz, Director of Sustainability, Grocery Manufacturers Association
Lana Coppolino Suarez, Acting Chief, Chemicals Management Branch (CMB), Sustainable Management of Food, U.S. EPA/OLEM/ORCR/RCSD

Fact Sheets:
Food Date Labeling Act -- Key Facts (Sen. Richard Blumenthal & Cong. Chellie Pingree)
Cong. Chellie Pingree's Food Recovery Act (HR 4184)

If you are an ELI member, a video of this event will be posted soon. If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see more information on the many benefits of membership and how to join.

The subsequent event in this two-part series, Diversion & Recycling (October 6), will discuss innovations in the food waste processing sector, potential municipal and state best practices in waste reduction, and opportunities to convert waste into renewable energy.