The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Feeding New York State, the state association of New York’s 10 Feeding America member food banks, today announced that a total of one million pounds of food was donated to hungry New Yorkers as part of the ongoing implementation of the State’s Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law. This significant milestone is one of several benefits of the law as DEC builds on efforts to reduce waste and climate-altering emissions caused by landfilling, while providing quality food to New Yorkers in need.
“DEC’s food waste recycling efforts are making a difference both in the lives of those in need and in the ongoing fight against climate change,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Governor Kathy Hochul’s ongoing support of this and other initiatives to help ensure families have access to quality food complements DEC’s work to reduce greenhouse gases from landfilled waste and achieve the State’s ambitious climate goals. I congratulate Feeding New York State, our food scrap providers, and all our partners for helping meet our goals and strengthen communities.”
Feeding New York State Executive Director Dan Egan said, “We in New York live with a paradox of food supply. New York’s farms and processors create enough high-quality food to feed everyone, and our food is so abundant that we throw out 40 percent of all of it. At the same time, three million New Yorkers live in fear of hunger. Our hungry neighbors live in every part of the state. Hunger in the midst of plenty is unjust. It is economically unsound. It is environmentally absurd. Thankfully, Feeding New York State, in partnership with DEC and Feeding America, is rescuing this perfectly good, wasted food and getting it to the people who need it. In the first seven months of the Food Donations and Food Scraps Law, Feeding New York State food banks have rescued one million pounds of perfectly good food, keeping it out of landfills and providing it to our neighbors. In New York, no one should go hungry.”
The New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law continues to see more food managed sustainably and diverted away from disposal from the state’s largest food-related businesses. As outlined in the draft Scoping Plan for the State’s climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), the release of methane from the breakdown of organic waste in landfills is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emission in the waste sector. Actions to reduce landfilling of these organics are critical to achieving New York’s climate goals.
Feeding New York State received funding from DEC through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to embark on a mission to dramatically increase food donation from large food businesses beginning in October 2021. In under a year since this work started and barely eight months since the law took effect, Feeding New York State surpassed one million new pounds of food donated due to their efforts and ongoing compliance with the law.
DEC today also announced a new agreement with the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) to provide additional technical assistance to businesses interested in sustainably managing excess food and food scraps to further reduce the amount of wasted food. Nearly $1 million will help fund a three-year effort to help businesses, municipalities, and composting and other organics recycling facilities increase the amount of food scraps that are recycled.
CET will help develop methods to reduce the amount of food wasted, create solutions to realize potential monetary savings to their purchasing costs, and implement food scraps collection and recycling programs. CET will also assist composting and anaerobic digestion facilities with improving operations and potentially expanding to incorporate more food scraps. Additionally, CET will assist in the development of expanded markets for the resultant compost or digestate.
CET President Ashley Muspratt said, “We’re so thrilled to see New York’s bold and multi-pronged commitment to wasted food reduction and it’s an honor for CET to be an implementing partner. We’re excited to share our decades of practical experience helping to bolster wasted food diversion marketplaces through direct assistance to wasted food generators, food rescue organizations, and organics processors operating in the state.”
The CET assistance and Feeding New York State support both come from the EPF. Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders increased the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history. This boost includes an increase of $500,000 for organics recycling that is part of a total increase of $3.7 million for municipal recycling over last year’s budget. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
More information on the Feeding New York State milestone can be found online.
More information on the CET technical assistance program and other DEC efforts to increase food donation and food scraps recycling can be found here.