Conversations around changing the way we deal with the waste we create are happening in classrooms, city offices, newsrooms, businesses and among change-makers worldwide. Waste in consumer driven countries like the United States is a big issue and food products contribute mightily to the content of landfills across the nation. Approximately forty percent of food created in the United States goes to waste, which is enough to fill a college stadium every day. Compare that with the fact that one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food and you can begin to draw lines to connect the problem with the solution. From an environmental perspective, food waste in a landfill creates methane gas, and contributes to seven percent of greenhouse gas. In that same vein, agriculture is a water intensive industry, so by throwing away food that could be used elsewhere, we are wasting a precious resource.
As business owners become more aware of the waste their operations create, tools and resources spring up that can help them analyze their waste stream and find ways to reduce it. When it comes to food waste, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge takes center stage as a program designed to help food service industry professionals better understand their waste and provide resources to combat it. While many restaurants and large scale kitchens excel at monitoring the amount of food they order, there are a myriad ways they can better manage it and reap the positive benefits of tackling this issue, mainly by following the food recovery hierachy.
Any business in the food service industry can join the Challenge, including restaurants, food manufacturers, grocery stores, caterers, schools and institutions. You simply sign up, get a baseline of your current waste, set a goal and use the tools and technical assistance provided to reach that goal. Participants have access to record keeping tools, can learn from webinars and are eligible for annual awards. Nonprofit organizations can also sign up as endorsers to help promote the Challenge. Local First Arizona is excited to be an endorser, and we not only promote our members who sign up, but our team can help LFA businesses achieve their food waste goals by assisting with waste audits, finding donation outlets and options like composting.
Reducing food waste has positive economic and social benefits, from saving money by reducing the amount of food ordered to feeding people instead of landfills. By analyzing food waste in your business operations, you’ll be leading a movement that is important to our community and you’ll be helping the United States Department of agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency reach their goal of reducing food waste fifty percent by 2030. Let’s work together to put Arizona on the map as a leader in the food waste recovery!