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Food waste not only affects people living with food insecurity, but it also has profound implications on natural resources and the climate. In 2012, Americans tossed out more than 36 million tons of food, much of which ended up in landfills. This waste releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Currently, food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills and accounts for 20% of all methane waste produced.
In 2015, the U.S. announced its first ever domestic goal to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030. In the hierarchy of food waste recovery options, a key objective is to divert waste to composting facilities or anaerobic digesters, rather than landfills and incinerators.
Some communities are already making efforts to address the issue. Vermont passed an act which bans the landfill disposal of recyclables starting in 2015, yard waste in 2016, and food waste in 2020. Hauling services have adapted other strategies to contribute to recycling efforts. Despite some shifts in policy, there are still many gaps hindering the effective diversion of food waste.
In the second panel in our food waste series, we 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.
- Carol Adaire Jones, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute (moderator)
- Sara L. Bixby, Deputy Executive Director, Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
- Cheryl Coleman, Director, Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery, U.S. EPA
- Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist, Food & Agriculture Program, NRDC
- Patrick Serfass, Executive Director, American Biogas Council, Invited
Environmental Law Institute
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington DC 20036