Connecticut’s Commercial Organics Recycling Law, In Effect Since 2014, Received Grants From EPA And USDA To Help Further Reduce Waste With A Goal Of 60% Waste Diversion By 2024 – Could This Be A Model For New York?

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Editor’s Note: While the below article discusses laws relevant to Connecticut, such laws would be extremely applicable anywhere in the Tri-State area, including New York City. According to FoodPolicy.org, “In New York State, food makes up about 18 PERCENT OF ALL WASTE. Each year, about 3.9 million tons of wasted food from New York ends up in landfills, where it slowly decays and is a “major contributor to methane gas production.” 

At the same time,.”12.8 percent of New Yorkers are food insecure” Additionally, “Supermarkets, restaurants, colleges, and hospitals are some of the largest food wasters, creating more than 250,000 tons of wasted food and food scraps each year, some of which is edible food that could be rescued instead of discarded.”

The type of law in effect in Connecticut could potentially serve as a model for other states, including New York. Further study on its feasibility would need to be conducted, but it may be worth trying. Food waste is a major problem that most consumers do not think about. However, we have recently become aware of several retailers that seek to assist in the regard. Once such is Misfits Market, which provides mostly organic produce and other groceries that are perhaps imperfect, and would have otherwise gone to waste, to consumers in many states by delivery. It is somewhat more complex than shopping for simple groceries, but it could contribute to a solution to the waste problems generated by our society.

Another such site is Imperfect Foods. Like Misfits Market, they also source food that is slightly imperfect, however it is still fresh and edible. Both allow shoppers to sign up and browse their selections for free, and then create a box for delivery to their home when they are ready to purchase. Delivery is free for both, as well, and their minimum order sizes are reasonable and comparable to buying groceries online

The following is a press release from the Center for Ecotechnology regarding the Connecticut organics recycling law and the associated federal funding dedicated to this program.

Originally published at CF Food Association

Family Dinner. Image Credit Image - Karolina Grabowska

Family Dinner. Image Credit Image – Karolina Grabowska

For many people in Connecticut, Thanksgiving is a time of family gatherings and enjoyable eating. It’s also a time when donations flood in from food rescue organizations to food pantries and soup kitchens, to ensure that the state’s hungriest people get warm, nutritious meals.

While Thanksgiving may put the spotlight on food insecurity, nearly half a million people in Connecticut, (according to the Connecticut Food Bank) including more than 140,000 children, do not have consistent access to adequate amounts of food year-around.

Trash Pollution. Image Credit - Jasmin Sessler

Trash Pollution. Image Credit – Jasmin Sessler

Meanwhile, nearly 520,000 tons of food waste is generated in Connecticut each year, some of which could be donated to feed people. Diversion from disposal of food waste in the State, be it by reduction of such waste in the first place, by donation to feed people or animals, or by composting and anaerobic digestion, is a priority noted in the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s (DEEP’s) recently adopted Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy (CMMS).

  • Based on a 2015 study, more than 925,000 tons per year of compostable materials (food waste, yard waste, and other organic materials) is thrown out in Connecticut. DEEP is interested in diverting as much of that material as possible, and has been collaborating with other partners on this important issue.
  • New Federal funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($25,000) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($75,000) to the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) will address this issue by launching technical assistance projects in Connecticut to help businesses reduce wasted food.
  • This is the first time that both USDA and EPA have supported the same food waste initiative of one organization, since both agencies announced their joint goal to reduced wasted food by 50% by 2030.
    The funding was announced today by Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Big Y World Class Markets, Rocky Hill. The announcement also highlighted BIG Y’s highly regarded efforts to divert food waste from the waste stream.
  • The Federal funding builds on a pilot program funded in 2015 by the Fink Family Foundation, in partnership with DEEP, to explore solutions to reduce and recycle commercial wasted food. That pilot program was developed and implemented by CET. CET is a non-profit organization that has decades of experience working successfully on this issue throughout New England.
  • With the Federal funds it has received, CET expects to provide technical assistance to up to 20 businesses in 2017, and divert about 600 tons of wasted food from the trash.
A shop inside Mercado de La Boqueria, in Barcelona. Image Credit - ja ma

A shop inside Mercado de La Boqueria, in Barcelona. Image Credit – ja ma

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “Food waste is a major component of our waste stream, and the sad truth is much of this food is tossed when it is perfectly good to eat and safe to consume. I applaud this new federal, state and local partnership to divert healthy food from landfills– helping feed the hungry, protect the environment, and save consumers and businesses money. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to advance the Food Recovery Act-comprehensive, commonsense legislation to reduce food waste, hunger and environmental harm.”

EPA Grant for “Don’t Waste Bridgeport”

The U.S EPA grant will help fund the “Don’t Waste Bridgeport” project, which seeks to redirect wasted food from schools and colleges, venues, supermarkets, and restaurants to food rescue and donation organizations in the city.

“Nationally food waste unnecessarily accounts 21% of all waste going to landfills and incinerators. We must work to divert wholesome food from going to waste,” said EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “Our Healthy Communities Grant to CET will help this effort by jumpstarting up to 10 food waste diversion projects with local businesses and institutions in Bridgeport.”

Red Apple Lot. Image Credit - sydney Rae

Red Apple Lot. Image Credit – sydney Rae

USDA Grant for “Connecticut Food Waste Technical Assistance”


The USDA Rural Business Development grant will fund the “Connecticut Food Waste Technical Assistance” initiative, which will be used by CET to help businesses, food rescue organizations, haulers and processing facilities divert wasted food from trash.

“Food waste is a significant problem, not only during the holidays but throughout the year.” said Scott J. Soares, State Director for Southern New England, “USDA Rural Development is proud to support CET in its food waste diversion efforts which address this problem that also combats food insecurity, supports rural job growth, contributes to renewable energy sources and creates important agricultural opportunities through the generation of compost. Ultimately this initiative allows the turning waste that otherwise can have environmental and cost implications into a community benefit.”

“Since Connecticut’s Commercial Organics Recycling Law went into effect in January 2014, it has been a priority of DEEP to provide outreach and assistance to food waste generators subject to that law,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “While this law has, as expected, led to the development of new composting and anaerobic digestion facilities to process food waste, DEEP also recognizes the importance of donation as an additional compliance option, one that is a higher tier on EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. The technical assistance that CET will be able to offer in Connecticut as a result of these EPA and USDA grants will enhance DEEP’s collaboration with ongoing outreach efforts.”

“CET is poised to leverage its experience and marketplace knowledge to help Connecticut businesses implement effective food scrap diversion programs,” said Lorenzo Macaluso, a Director at CET. “USDA and EPA support will enable us to build on the momentum we gained through working with the Fink Family Foundation to catalyze Connecticut’s growing capacity and infrastructure for reducing food waste. Our work will help businesses cost-effectively comply with laws, capture potential cost savings and improve market opportunities for food rescue organizations, haulers, composters, and anaerobic digesters.”

About:

Center for EcoTechnology

The Center for EcoTechnology, a 501C3 based in Northampton, MA, helps people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. For 40 years CET has offered proven advice and resources that helps people and businesses save money and reduce environmental impact. Each year CET helps approximately 27,000 people with energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste reduction services. This works saves people and businesses $33 million/year and reduces carbon emissions equal to removing 33,000 cars off the road for a year. Among the programs we provide:

  • Business and institution recycling technical assistance through RecyclingWorksMA, a program funded by Mass. Dept of Environmental Protection and managed and delivered through CET.

CET has received multiple awards for its pioneering work to reduce wasted food:

  • Non-Profit of the Year from the New England Environmental Business Council
  • US EPA 2015 Food Recovery Challenge Endorser of the Year
  • EPA-New England Environmental Merit Award
  • Wasted food diversion solutions and technical assistance for State agencies and the marketplace throughout New England.
  • EcoBuilding Bargains, the largest reused building materials retail store in New England, which diverts more than 500 tons of materials each year from landfills.
  • Residential and commercial energy efficiency services.
  • New England’s leading fellowship program for emerging environmental professionals.

For more information about CET, visit www.cetonline.org and www.ecobuildingbargains.org.

Contact Dave Orsman, director of marketing and development, at [email protected] or 413.575.8322.

CT DEEP

CT DEEP is the state agency charged with conserving, improving and protecting our natural resources and the environment – and bringing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to this state’s families and businesses.

DEEP recently adopted a 2016 Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy. This strategy is designed to achieve 60 percent diversion of waste from disposal by the year 2024 by reducing waste, increasing reuse, recycling, and composting, and focusing on the development of waste conversion technologies.

Banner Image: Community Refrigerator Fights Food Insecurity At A Local Church.  Image Credit –  Sigmund


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Center For EcoTechnology

The Center for EcoTechnology helps people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. We work with partners throughout the country to address climate change by transforming the way we live and work – for a better community, economy, and environment. For more than 40 years, our innovative non-profit organization has offered practical solutions to save money, increase the health and comfort of our homes, and help businesses perform better.

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