Consumed food is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions for which each of us can easily do something.
Every time you scratch your plate in the trash and place that trash on the curb that the garbage truck picks up and sends to the other carrier to eventually send it to a landfill, you have actively contributed to the climate change in the country. to actively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This is because the food that ends up in a landfill eventually decomposes and releases methane, the most powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
That food on your plate is not trash. It has the potential to be a meal for someone else either directly being left out and eaten as waste or indirectly being composted and used to raise new food.
New York State has taken a big step to eliminate anyone who ever thinks of food as trash. The law on food donation and food waste recycling, adopted in April 2019, enters into force on January 1, 2022.
Through this legislation, New York joins many other states in addressing the loss of 30-40 percent of the food produced in this country. Starting in the area where the food is grown or grown and ending in your plate, we throw away more than a third of the food we grow and raise in the United States.
This is happening while nearly 3 million people in New York State alone are food insecure. Instead of feeding people with that food, we are sending it to landfills where it produces methane gas, which is linked to climate change and its consequences, such as extreme weather events and rising sea levels, which then jeopardize our ability to grow and nourish food. You can appreciate the irony.
Under New York State law, large food waste generators must separate and donate edible food and separate and recycle all leftover food waste if it is within 25 miles of an organic recycler capable of accepting food waste of the facility.
A large food waste generator is any entity that has on average more than 2 tons of lost food and food waste per week. Excludes hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and K-12 schools.
Food waste refers to inedible food, decorations from food preparation, contaminated paper with food, non-donated food, and food processing waste. Food waste does not include used cooking oil, yellow fat or any food that is subject to withdrawal or confiscation due to the presence of pathogens.
The New York State Department of Environmental Protection (DEC) divided all facilities in the state into sectors to determine if they qualify as a major food waste generator and thus should be included in the list of designated food waste generators . Sectors include:
• colleges and universities
• correctional facilities and prisons
• grocery stores and specialty foods
• other generators (amusement and theme parks, casinos and racetracks, shopping malls, military bases, sports venues, wholesale and distribution)
Once the sectors were identified, the state had to find a way to determine if a facility was likely to generate more than 2 tonnes of lost food and food waste per week on average. The DEC contracted with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology to identify factors for ranking a structure as designated food waste generators and are therefore subject to this law.
Based on NYSP2I research in business sectors and other states with similar laws, the DEC adopted a formula based on the number of employees, students, or inmates for each sector.
This number is linked to a number of pounds of food waste per year and together that information is used to determine the minimum number of people working, going to school or housed in a facility to meet the law threshold of 2 our.
The review of the list of objects subject to the requirements of this law published by the DEC on June 1, 2021 was fascinating.
Who knew all these companies were on Long Island and that they generated so much food consumed? Here are some who withdrew: Nassau County Correctional Center, University of Adelphi, Hofstra University, Nassau County College, Suffolk County Community College, SUNY (Farmingdale and Stonybrook), Key Foods, King Tower, Stop & Shop, Uncle Giusep Marketplace, Whole Foods, Costco, Target, Walmart, Danford’s Hotel & Marina, Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hyatt Place, Jake’s 58 Casino Hotel, Long Island Marriott, The Fox Hollow, The Garden City Hotel, Raddison Hotel, Marriott Residence Inn, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar, Bethpage Golf Course, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Cozymel’s Mexican Grill, Crest Hollow Country Club, Dave & Buster’s, Grotta di Fuoco, Hendrick’s Tavern, Houlihan’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy, M, Milonidge’s Millenidge Steakhouse, Nautilus Diner, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, TGI Friday, Vincent’s Clam Bar, Adventureland, County Fair Entertainment and Event Park, Restaurant Depot, Apple & Eve, Broad way Mall, Greenacres Mall, Roosevelt Field Shopping Center, Walt Whitman Stores and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Then there are many wholesalers and distributors such as Astra Group, Inc., Coffee Distributing Corp., Crystal Cove, Darik Enterprises Inc., Harbor Seafood, Inc., House of Spices, Kelsen Inc., Yorkshire Food Sale, Walker’s Shortbread Inc., and William H. Kopke Jr. Inc.
The facilities have until the beginning of 2022 to establish processes in accordance with the law. In the meantime, you can encourage any of the facilities to do more than the law requires.
For example, they may not be required to recycle food waste that cannot be donated, but they may choose to set up a recycling program for their food waste and further reduce the amount they send to landfill to produce methane gas. .
You can contact your local public officials and encourage them to expand food recycling opportunities in your community to help businesses reduce the amount they send to the landfill. The DEC has identified only one composting facility in Suffolk County.
There is no listing in Nassau County. There are facilities listed as Nassau and Suffolk County service so there are options, but we can use many more. You can follow the example of the state and implement similar steps in your home: reduce your lost food footprint and recycle what may not be part of a meal.
Food should never be seen as waste, but should be valued as food directly or indirectly to help grow new food.
For more information, see https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemic/114499.html#DesignatedFoodScrapsGenerators.