3- Show US Leadership at Home and Abroad
Redesigning food systems and reducing waste can generate enormous benefits for people and nature. The US has re-entered the Paris Agreement and an important priority of the Biden administration's climate plan is decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector. Fixing long-standing social, environmental, and supply chain issues in the food system is critical to the administration’s climate and COVID-19 recovery objectives. The US has one of the world’s highest levels of food waste per capita, and it is vital for the nation’s food security, climate, and recovery objectives that the administration double-down on its FLW goals.
Embed FLW Reduction in US Nationally Determined Contribution
Taking sufficient steps to meet the US commitment to reduce FLW by 50% by 2030 can lower US GHG emissions by 75 MMTCO2e per year. The administration should formally recognize this potential by making FLW reduction a part of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) toward the Paris Agreement. The federal interagency effort to reduce food waste is already aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 to reduce FLW 50% by 2030, and the administration is well-positioned to lead by advancing FLW reduction alongside other climate solutions. Doing so would also send a market signal for states, cities, and companies to similarly make FLW reduction an official part of their climate strategies.
Require Federal Facilities to Measure, Rescue, Recycle, and Prevent Organic Waste, and to Purchase Finished Compost Products
The federal government can send a clear market signal by requiring federal facilities to divert all organic waste from landfills and incinerators. Government entities and agencies should be required to measure and annually report on the progress of a food waste action plan to prevent food from being wasted, rescue and donate surplus food, and recycle food scraps—all of which can also save the government money by eliminating waste. The existing Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 requires federal agencies to encourage federal contractors to donate excess food, yet it does not require such donations and does not stipulate that agency food donations be tracked or monitored in any way. Congress should amend the Act to instead have agencies require in their contracts that contractors donate safe surplus food, and add a reporting requirement to incentivize more food donation. Secondly, the Sustainable Acquisition Policy should be updated to require federal agencies to purchase compost made from diverted organic waste materials per the EPA’s existing guidance, giving preference to small business, women- or minority-owned composting facilities.
Fund and Incentivize FLW Innovation
Congress should allocate $50 million in grants for FLW research and innovation n (that could be overseen via the Federal Interagency Food Loss and Waste Collaboration) to accelerate efforts by state and local governments, food businesses, and NGOs to pilot new interventions that effectively prevent FLW. Funding could also be used to target the development of food donation and recycling infrastructure to underserved areas. The EPA Excess Foods Opportunity Map showcases food banks, anaerobic digesters, and composting facilities to enable food businesses to better divert their surplus food and food scraps. It also makes visible the regions and states that are most lacking in donation and recycling infrastructure, where investment is most needed.
Boost Funding for the Federal Interagency Effort to Reduce Food Waste
The Federal Interagency Food Loss and Waste Collaboration is a joint effort launched by the FDA, USDA, and EPA in which the three agencies affirm their shared commitment to work towards the national goal of reducing FLW by 50% by 2030. To meet the initiative’s target, it will take at least $2 million in funding for additional personnel to oversee the program and competitive grant funding outlined in this action plan.