The EPA has launched its Food Recovery Challenge by signing up grocery stores, universities, entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, convention centers and federal facilities to a five percent cut in food waste in their first year.
The University of Arkansas, Rice University, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the Blue Man Group – Boston performance troupe, the City of Cupertino, Calif., and Warner Bros. Entertainment are just some of the 130 organizations signed on for the program.
Others include Amgen, the Boston Red Sox, Canon USA, the Cleveland Indians, the Grand Hyatt New York, MGM Resorts, the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Cardinals, Supervalu, Wegmans and Whole Foods’ northeast and south regions.
Organizations joining the program must commit to at least a five percent increase in at least one of the three food diversion categories: prevention, donation or composting. Or alternatively, they can commit to a combined five percent increase across all three food waste diversion categories. If a participant does not have food diversion data, the EPA says it will assist the organization in developing a program to help measure future progress. In subsequent years member organizations will set site-specific numerical targets based on opportunities at each facility.
Food accounts for 25 percent of all waste sent to landfills nationwide – more than any other single material, the EPA says. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
In October, UK grocery chain Waitrose achieved its target of sending zero food waste to landfill two months ahead of schedule. Originally, the supermarket chain had said all 280 of its UK branches would recycle or donate food waste that is unfit for consumption by the end of 2012.