Food Recovery and Recycling Act
Executive Budget, Article VII TED, Part BB
Wasted food is a serious economic, environmental, and food security problem. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. In this country, more than 40% of the food we produce is wasted. Americans throw out the equivalent of $218 billion of food every year, in addition to unnecessarily consuming huge volumes of fresh water, energy, chemical fertilizers and pesticides—all of which are used in the production of food that goes to waste. At the same time, millions of Americans struggle to afford food to feed their families. Less than one-third of the food we throw out in this country would be enough to feed all 42 million food insecure Americans.
New York faces similar challenges. Food makes up 18% of our municipal solid waste stream. The vast majority of this food is disposed of in landfills where it breaks down and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that’s nearly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat.
Nearly one in seven New Yorkers lacks consistent access to sufficient food. In Sullivan County alone, 12% of our population is food insecure, according to Feeding America. And we are throwing away wholesome food that could instead help feed our fellow citizens in need.
The bill holistically addresses food issues in New York by preventing, recovering and recycling food waste. The bill requires the state’s largest food waste generators to donate excess food and to recycle food scraps. Paired with related funding and administrative actions, the policy will feed hungry New Yorkers, fight climate change, and generate jobs in communities around New York. Catskill Mountainkeeper supports this bill.
The bill requires supermarkets, restaurants, higher education institutions, hotels, food processors, correctional facilities, sports or entertainment venues, and hospitals or other health care facilities that create an average of two tons or more per week of excess food and food waste to separate wholesome food and food scraps from its waste stream. The generator will then donate its wholesome excess food and send food scraps to a nearby organics recycling facility. The bill directs the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish an education and outreach effort, and promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement the law. At a minimum, the department will promulgate rules and regulations that set forth the methodology the department will use to determine who is a designated food scraps generator, after consulting with industry representatives, and what process a designated generator must follow to dispute such determination, the waiver process, and how designated food scraps generators shall comply with the law.