BioCycle World

BioCycle  March/April 2017, Vol. 58, No. 3, p. 6

Food Donation Act Of 2017

Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and James P. McGovern (D-MA) introduced the Food Donation Act of 2017 (H.R. 952) in early February. The legislation, intended to boost food donations across the U.S., enhances the coverage of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (Emerson Act), passed by Congress in 1996. The Emerson Act promotes food donation by providing civil and criminal liability protection to food donors and food recovery organizations. It provides a broad base of liability protection that was intended to encourage food donations, yet donors are often unaware of the Act’s protections. Many food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants still cite fear of liability as a primary deterrent to donating food. The Food Donation Act of 2017 will help to clarify some of the ambiguous terms in the Emerson Act and promote awareness by delegating authority over the Act to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and directing the USDA to provide guidance and promote it.

Further, explains an article in the Harvard Food Law and Policy Center (FLPC) e-newsletter, the proposed legislation would extend liability protection in several ways that support modern food donation, such as giving liability protection to donations sold at a reduced price to recipients and to certain direct donations given to those in need. This will increase efficiency, reduce costs, and enable timely use of perishable food, notes FLPC (more details at link in online version of this item).

Florida Department of Environmental ProtectionFlorida Organics Website — Reinvented!

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Kessler Consulting, Inc. announced the launch of the new and completely updated FORCE — Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence — website for promotion of organics recovery in Florida. The website has been revamped with current and historical organics recycling information for Florida. Kessler Consulting, under contract to DEP, updated the look, feel and function of the site, which contains a map of Florida compost/organics facilities, links to resources from local, state and national organizations, research and demonstration projects specific to Florida, and information on organics diversion and recycling education and relevant conferences and events.

FORCE was originally funded between 2001 and 2008 by a $3.5 million legislative appropriation, and was a cooperative effort between the FDEP, University of Florida and Sumter County. It was created to address Florida’s need for environmentally sound and economically feasible methods for recovering Florida’s organic and agricultural wastes. Kessler Consulting has managed the FORCE project since its inception. (

California High School Wins EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award

Ramona High School (RHS) in Ramona, California was the 2016 winner in the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge Narrative Category, which recognizes excellence in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach and endorsement. Ramona High School’s Eco-Leaders, led by their teacher, Gloria Quinn, are a small group of students who participate in a Functional Skills program and are committed to making change in the world (see “School District Rolls Out Food Waste Reduction,” March/April 2015). In collaboration with the County of San Diego, the Eco-Leaders run a district-wide food waste reduction and composting program. Students weigh, measure, chart and keep accurate data from eight school sites. This data is sent electronically to the County each day. The Eco-Leaders are the first high school students in California (and the fourth in the nation) to participate in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

The RHS program follows the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy of source reduction, food donation, animal feed and composting methods that are employed to maximize community and environmental value. Academic subjects are brought to life and connected to the community, while developing independent living skills and purpose. Also in 2016, the Eco-Leaders and Quinn were chosen as one of 56 recipients of California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell, which is sponsored by the California School Boards Association. The award recognized public school programs that are innovative and sustainable, make a demonstrated difference for students and focus on meeting the needs of all public school students.

Tackling Food Waste, Nashville-Style

In 2015, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) launched the Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI) to develop high impact policies, strategies and practical tools to serve as models for cities around the country. Nashville was selected as a model as a midsize, demographically diverse metropolis in the center of the country. The NFWI engages governments, consumers, restaurants, community institutions, and retailers to reduce and prevent food waste, redirect surplus food to hungry people, and compost and anaerobically digest what’s left to help build healthy soil.

NRDC staff have been connecting people from across the Nashville community to leverage current initiatives while identifying and implementing new approaches around prevention, donation and recycling. Examples include:

• Employ creative assets from the NRDC/Ad Council Save The Food awareness campaign, such as billboards and social media outreach, within the city.

• Collaborate with select food service providers to help quantify the amount of food wasted, using innovative LeanPath software to help prevent waste and reduce costs. Conduct a baseline food waste assessment to estimate the amounts and types of food wasted in Nashville’s residential and commercial sectors. The NFWI has gathered household information through tools like kitchen diaries and consumer surveys to understand how much and what types of food are wasted, as well as some of the underlying causes of food waste.

• Partner with Zero Percent to drive more restaurants to its app that directs prepared food donations to local social service organizations.

• Advise Resource Capture, LLC, a local nonprofit, on the siting and development of an anaerobic digester to supplement the local composting infrastructure.

New Data Emphasizes Safety Of Compost And Digestate

Two studies released by the U.K. Waste Reduction and Action Programme (WRAP) in mid-January indicate that both compost and digestate, when certified under the U.K. Biofertiliser or Compost Certification Schemes, are safe to use in agriculture. In both cases a wide range of hazards were considered and risks from compost and digestate use were considered to be low or negligible in all scenarios examined. The certification schemes provide reassurance to users that compost and digestate are safe, reliable and of consistent quality and enable producers to become certified to PAS100 and PAS110 quality protocols respectively.

The composting report acknowledges that despite the U.K.’s regulatory constraints for compost production and use, including the PAS100 certification, “key market stakeholders have raised questions around the quality, safety and usability of composts — both on land used to grow crops for human consumption, and land grazed by livestock.” This led to WRAP’s “Confidence In Compost Program,” which included three comprehensive risk assessments devoted to different types of compost in different uses: 1. Green compost (garden and yard trimmings) used on land where livestock are grazed, or fodder grown; 2. Green/food compost used on land where livestock are grazed; and 3. Green and green/food compost used on land where crops are grown for human consumption. “The conclusions from this research underpin WRAP’s ‘Renewable Fertiliser Matrix’, which clearly illustrates cropping and grazing situations where green and green/food composts can be safely used,” states the report.

The separate digestate report explains that “the conclusion of this study is that the risks associated with the use of PAS110 digestates in Great Britain agriculture are assessed to be acceptably low and in many cases, negligible. … it is also appropriate to recognize that regulatory compliance, strict adherence to the requirements of the PAS110 digestate specification, and a precautionary approach to exposure is prudent. Opportunities to minimize prolonged exposure to any waste-derived material — as well as natural soils and fertilizers — is a sensible precaution. Therefore, normal hygiene practices should be adhered to, such as avoidance of direct handling.”

Oregon 2050 Vision Plan Targets Cut In Wasted Food

In line with its 2050 Vision for Materials Management, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will prioritize preventing wasted food over recovery or disposal, said DEQ senior policy analysts David Allaway and Elaine Blatt at a recent webinar. In fact, they noted that DEQ has a strategic plan to reduce the generation of uneaten food by 15 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2050, as well as a new statutory goal to recover 25 percent of wasted food by 2020. If DEQ does not meet the food recovery goal, it must report to the State Legislature with recommendations for meeting or modifying the goal. “Historically, the problem of food waste has been on disposal, rather than on [not] wasting food,” said Blatt. “The greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction achieved through source reduction is six times what you would get from putting it through anaerobic digestion or composting. [But] we are still stuck on rescue and recovery. We are still trying to divert out of landfill.”

The 2050 Action Plan’s drive is to mitigate the environmental impacts (water, energy use, GHG emissions) of every stage of resource use, from product design and manufacture to consumption and end-of-life management. DEQ also will be looking at how food waste reduction might impact demand for land for food production, where it might keep farming from expanding into agriculturally marginal lands.

The Strategic Plan sets out 9 priority projects, several of which are foundational research into measurement (types, quantities, causes of wasted food), messaging, food rescue, date labeling, analysis of prevention practices, research comparing prevention, donation and recovery options, research on the economics of food waste reduction and studying packaging impacts. Allaway noted that educating master recyclers about wasted food can translate into broader community understanding, as they are “front-line educators.”

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