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Food Waste

New Jersey Waste-to-Energy Bill Would Require Corporations to Separate Food Waste

Food WasteRestaurants, supermarkets and other large food waste generators in New Jersey may soon be required to separate and recycle this waste stream for use as compost or in waste-to-energy facilities.

A bill that would mandate these changes, S-771, was recently passed by the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee, as reported by NJ.com. The legislation would also encourage the state to build more waste-to-energy plants.

Food waste is the single largest component of US municipal solid waste, according to the EPA. It accounts for a major portion of the nation’s methane emissions and it costs businesses billions.

The US Department of Agriculture estimates the food retail industry lost almost $47 billion in 2010 (the most current figures) from food losses — that’s 8 percent of their food supply.

If half of the nation’s food waste could be recycled and used as a fuel for energy, enough electricity would be generated to power 2.5 million homes for a year, according to EPA estimates.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), the sponsor of the bill, told NJ.com that the legislation is “an intelligent alternative to improve our environment. We have a problem with waste in this country, and recycling solid waste is a viable system that will produce energy to provide to our homes, schools and businesses.’”

Similar laws have been adopted in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.

The New Jersey proposal follows a Rutgers University study that found New Jersey was not utilizing the potential energy from biomass, which it said can help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions improve air quality.

In other efforts to reduce food waste, Food Cowboy, which uses mobile technology to help food companies route surplus and unsaleable inventory to charities and organic waste to composters, earlier this year launched two initiatives to fund startups and technologies that reduce food waste.

The No Waste Promise Alliance and the Food Waste Innovation Fund will together invest up to $75 million a year in public and private sector solutions to food waste, Food Cowboy says.

Last year, the US government set a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030 — a move widely supported by the retail, food and beverage industries, among others.


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