New Policy Guides Help Municipalities Combat Food Waste Through Data Collection

July 2022

NEW YORK, NY –  NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) have published model ordinances–a set of policy templates and guides–designed to support local legislators in their efforts to reduce and prevent food waste. Municipalities can tailor these tools to push businesses, universities and other large organizations to report their generation of food waste and surplus food–collecting the necessary data to make informed policy and program decisions for their region.

The free and publicly accessible documents include a background memo and a model ordinance–available with and without commentaries–that explains the benefits of key provisions and provides information about alternative approaches for customization.

The following are statements from co-authors of the model ordinances:

“Adopting preventive food waste strategies begins with data and insights. On average, discarded food represents nearly 24 percent of landfill waste by weight - the most prevalent material in our landfills. To meet local and national climate and zero waste goals, model policies like these are critical tools to help municipalities assess opportunities for robust policy and program change.” - Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist, People and Communities, NRDC.

“Municipal staff typically face tremendous time and resource constraints, which can make it difficult to advance food waste reduction measures. This model is intended to minimize the transaction costs associated with addressing food waste by providing an off-the-shelf ordinance that can easily be adapted to local circumstances. We hope the model ordinance will make it easier for municipalities to realize the many benefits of addressing food waste such as reductions in carbon emissions and food insecurity.” - Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney & Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, ELI.

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) makes law work for people, places, and the planet. With its non-partisan, independent approach, ELI promotes solutions to tough environmental problems. The Institute’s unparalleled research and highly respected publications inform the public debate and build the institutions needed to advance sustainable development. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @ELIORG.

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