The Food Waste Reduction and Diversion Reimbursement Program, an innovative partnership between New York State (NYS) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), focuses on incentivizing the reduction of food waste in the state. The program provides reimbursement to NYS businesses, municipalities, or nonprofits involved in food reduction, recovery and recycling to offset the cost of select technologies and equipment designed to reduce or divert food waste from landfill or incineration. Diversion includes prevention, donation and recycling.
Initially, only food waste generators were eligible for reimbursements. Recently, the grant eligibility criteria were expanded to also allow food waste recyclers and food waste haulers. Applicants must be registered in New York and produce, haul or recycle more than 1 ton/week of excess food or food scraps. Reimbursement is up to 44% (in most cases not to exceed $100,000) of eligible equipment costs upon fulfillment of the program requirements. Examples of eligible equipment include, but are not limited to: processing (e.g. compactor, dehydrator, depackager, windrow turner, grinder); management (e.g. collection totes), software system purchases (e.g. inventory management system, food waste tracking software); and food life-extension equipment (e.g. food storage bins, refrigeration).
To date, NYS businesses have received nearly $400,000 in reimbursement from the program. Projects range from inventory management software allowing a grocery chain to reduce its shrink across all NYS stores, to new food waste collection/storage equipment allowing a food manufacturer to easily collect and store food scraps to be picked up for recycling. The projects funded to date have resulted in approximately 70 tons/week of food waste being diverted from landfills.
Approximately $2.8 million remains for reimbursements, notes Ava Labuzetta, Staff Engineer with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute based at RIT. “We are very excited to be expanding the Food Waste Reduction and Diversion Reimbursement Program to include additional eligible applicants. By reimbursing the investments of food waste generators, and those entities collecting and recycling food waste generated, we’ll be able to make a significant impact on New York State food waste currently going to landfill or incineration.”