The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized five California organizations for their outstanding efforts to reduce food waste. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge program encourages businesses, non-profits and government agencies to reduce waste, donate food and recycle food scraps to save money, feed the needy and protect the environment.
“These winning organizations are showing how food recovery solutions result in multiple benefits” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “They are reducing waste, serving their communities through food donation and generating clean fuels to power their operations.”
This year’s regional winners are:
Sprouts Farmers Markets (California) for donating 695 tons of fresh surplus food to people in need and 659 tons of excess food to farm animals from its eighteen stores located throughout California. Additionally, Sprouts diverted 793 tons of food trimmings and scraps to composting facilities. Overall, Sprouts kept 2,147 tons of excess food out of landfills. Sprouts’ Tustin store received EPA’s national FRC award for Grocer of the Year.
EcoSet Consulting (Los Angeles) for implementing waste diversion solutions and zero waste practices during the production of commercials and live events. EcoSet diverts roughly 30,000-40,000 pounds annually through composting and food donation. In 2017, the company donated 17,395 pounds of food from the production set of a commercial, partnering with Valley Food Bank and Westside Food Bank to redistribute the resources.
99 Ranch Market (Rowland Heights) for its organic food waste recycling program. The store also donates grocery and produce items through Feeding America. The Rowland Heights store provides training to its employees in waste recycling and food donation management in English, Chinese and Spanish.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (Alhambra) for implementing food waste reduction practices at its headquarters facility. In 2017, Public Works launched its internal “Scrape Your Plate” food waste collection program, which sent 100 pounds to worm bins and 4,520 pounds of food waste to anaerobic digestion facilities. Anaerobic digestion is a process which converts food waste into biogas, which produces renewable electricity and transportation fuel. In addition, Public Works donated 320 pounds of leftover meals to local communities.
168 Market (Hacienda Heights) for its sustainable food waste management program focusing on anaerobic digestion. The Hacienda Heights store provides specific training in organic waste separation in English, Chinese and Spanish. Through its anaerobic digestion program, the store diverted 169 tons of excess food from landfills in 2017, more than double the 76 tons diverted in 2016.
The FRC is part of the new Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, a partnership among EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, to reduce food loss and waste through combined federal action. Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participate in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. In 2017, FRC participants prevented or diverted almost 648,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $31.2 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.
Food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year. In 2015, more than 39 million tons of food waste was generated. Food waste undermines the economy, our communities and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food. At the same time, approximately 12 percent of America’s households have difficulty providing enough food for family members. Hungry people in need benefit from the redirection of nutritious, wholesome food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The strategies used by FRC organizations, plus those implemented by individuals, communities and public-private partnerships help lessen these impacts and bring the United States closer to meeting the national goal of reducing food waste 50 percent by 2030. Nationally, 14 businesses and organizations received national FRC awards, including five in the Pacific Southwest Region.