ReFED and Partners Welcome New Bill to Fight U.S. Food Waste And Build A Better Food System


ReFED and Partners Welcome New Bill to Fight U.S. Food Waste And Build A Better Food System

July 16, 2021

Today, the Zero Food Waste Act was introduced by Representatives Julia Brownley (CA), Ann McLane Kuster (NH), and Chellie Pingree (ME), and by Senator Cory Booker (NJ). This legislation would advance the goal of cutting U.S. food loss and waste in half by 2030 and reduce the climate impacts of food waste by establishing a new EPA program for state, local, and tribal communities to lead efforts to measure, prevent, and build the infrastructure necessary to decrease food waste across America.

"Food waste is a problem that's absolutely in our power to solve and doing so would have measurable benefits for the climate and environment, for jobs and the economy, and for those struggling with food insecurity,” said Dana Gunders, Executive Director of ReFED. “The Zero Food Waste Act provides much-needed government funding to implement common-sense solutions to reduce food waste. And I'm particularly excited to see it prioritizing communities of color, low-income and Tribal communities that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of food waste."

A new analysis from ReFED shows that in 2019, 35% of all food in the United States went unsold or uneaten. That’s $408 billion worth of food – roughly 2% of U.S. GDP – with a greenhouse gas footprint equivalent to 4% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Most of this went straight to landfill, incineration, or down the drain, or was simply left in the fields to rot. Businesses, government agencies, funders, and others have been making efforts to address this challenge – but a massive acceleration is needed to achieve national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030.

Along with ReFED, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), and supporters of the national Food Waste Action Plan welcome the introduction of the bill with the following statements of support.

Pete Pearson, Global Food Loss and Waste Lead, World Wildlife Fund: 
"Organic waste is the number one item by volume entering our landfills and is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire US airline industry, all while millions of Americans experience hunger. Simply put, food is too valuable to throw away. The Zero Food Waste Act would support state, local, and tribal communities making the policy changes and infrastructure investments needed to develop a circular food economy, invest in community health and jobs, and curb greenhouse gas emissions. By leading here at home, the US can show the world how to invest in food systems where people and nature thrive."

Yvette Cabrera, Director of Food Waste at NRDC:
“When food is wasted, the same amount of greenhouse gases is generated as from 58 million cars a year. The Zero Food Waste Act directly contributes to the administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis by preventing food from going to waste and ending up in landfills and incinerators. The much-needed federal funding from this bill better equips cities, states, and tribal communities—usually responsible for waste management, land use, and local food regulations—to take the lead in food waste reduction like never before.”

Emily Broad Leib, Faculty Director of FLPC and Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School:
"Congress has the power to significantly reduce food waste through the Zero Food Waste Act, which would create the first EPA grant program specifically intended for food waste reduction efforts. The $650 million authorized for the program under the Act could go a long way toward enabling food waste reduction efforts across the U.S. by supporting local, state, and tribal governments in implementing the solutions that make most sense in their region. We therefore strongly encourage Congress to pass the Zero Food Waste Act, and not to miss out on an important opportunity for action on both climate and food security."

Esther Manheimer, Mayor, City of Asheville, NC:
"The City of Asheville understands the urgency of food waste reduction initiatives as a key strategy to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, feed hungry people, and respect food system supply chain efficiencies and labor. The Zero Food Waste Act will provide critical funding necessary to support local communities in tackling food waste from reduction to recycling initiatives.”

Ted Wheeler, Mayor, City of Portland, OR:
"As part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, the City of Portland has committed to reducing food waste 50% by 2030. We know that preventing food waste reduces emissions, conserves our natural resources, and helps to address food insecurity, delivering on our climate action and equity goals. Through the Zero Food Waste Act, Congress has the opportunity to enable state, local, and Tribal governments to take action to reduce wasted food and support resilient and healthy communities."

Jason Mitchell, Director, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Baltimore, MD:
"We are pleased to support legislation that focuses on food waste prevention. The grant funding proposed in ‘The Zero Food Waste Act’ can be a game-changer for cities like Baltimore that are seeking to reduce food waste and food insecurity while increasing opportunities for food rescue and composting. Our recently completed “Less Waste, Better Baltimore” plan demonstrates the importance of diverting organics from the waste stream and provides recommendations for how we can move forward. This proposed legislation will give us the means to pursue opportunities for food waste reduction."

Angie Fyfe, Executive Director, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA:
"Local governments seek to holistically address food system challenges - including equitable, sustainable, and healthy food access, food safety, protecting natural resources, and supporting laborers who bring food to our tables. The Zero Food Waste Act provides another building block to create opportunities for local communities."

Priyanka Malhotra, Senior Brand Manager, Hellmann’s:
“At Hellmann’s, we are committed to leading the charge to solve food waste in the United States. We support the Zero Food Waste Act, and we believe this is a necessary step to align business and public policy to reinvigorate our country’s commitment to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 – a critical step in addressing the climate crisis and improving our food system. The problem of wasted food is complex and interconnected, which is why the support of policy initiatives designed to unlock additional funding for waste mitigation is needed.”

Jessica Synkoski, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sodexo:
“Sodexo recognizes the clear need for investment in solutions that can address all types of food waste across the value chain with a diverse set of programs and infrastructure. The grants enacted through this bill would allow us to better understand sources of food waste, enhance measurement and reporting and support and scale meaningful solutions that will be essential as we work to meet our goals and support the communities we serve. Our ambition is to feed more people healthier foods that fight climate change while supporting females and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities who are disproportionality impacted by these challenges. In 2018, we committed to reducing our own food waste by 50% by 2025 and in 2019, we joined as a founding partner of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Champions 12.3 10x20x30 initiative to work with 20 of our largest suppliers to make the same reduction by 2030.”

John Majercak, President, Center for EcoTechnology:
"The Center for EcoTechnology proudly endorses “The Zero Food Waste Act.” This act will improve market opportunities for new wasted food prevention technologies, food rescue organizations, and haulers, composters, and anaerobic digesters. Passing this bill would be a big win for our community, economy, and environment."

Danielle Todd, Executive Director, Make Food Not Waste, Detroit, MI:
“Food loss and waste reduction have to be part of any climate strategy. This necessary investment will help all of us working on the front lines of this critical issue.”

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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