During 2015, more than 800 governments, businesses, and organizations participated in the Food Recovery Challenge, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA recently recognized the accomplishments of 13 organizations and businesses participating in this Challenge focused on significantly reducing food waste; these are the 2016 Food Recovery Challenge winners.
Participants in this most recent Food Recovery Challenge include organizations such as grocers, restaurants, educational institutions, and sports and entertainment venues, that together prevented more than 690,000 tons of food waste. These efforts reduced carbon emissions equivalent to taking approximately 86,000 cars off the road for a year and saved businesses up to $35 million in avoided waste disposal fees.
“The waste reduction efforts of this year’s award winners, as well as all Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers, are leading the way for the United States to meet the national goal to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management.
He continued, “These Food Recovery Challenge award winners are reducing food loss and waste within their communities to make America a healthier, more sustainable nation. They are leading by example and have reduced their climate footprint, helped communities and achieved cost savings by taking actions based on EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy and sustainable materials management best practices.”
In the United States, wasted food carries significant economic and environmental costs, notes EPA. Food accounts for the largest share of the municipal waste stream, with roughly 77 billion pounds discarded each year. The estimated value of food that goes uneaten each year is $161.6 billion, costing the average family up to $1,500. Uneaten food and other organic materials in landfills decompose and generate methane, a significantly harmful greenhouse gas. Landfills are one of the largest sources of methane emissions produced from human activity.
To reduce their food waste, Food Recovery Challenge participants use practices such as:
- Recovering food from farmers’ markets
- Creating food waste volunteer programs in high schools
- Giving college students the option to choose what goes on their plates
- Using tools to improve portion control and meal forecasting
- Adding infrastructure to more efficiently distribute perishable produce
EPA recognizes Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers with awards in two categories — Data-Driven and Narrative.
The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percent increases in their sector comparing year to year data. Narrative award winners excelled in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach and endorsement.
EPA’s 2016 Food Recovery Challenge National Award Winners
Data-driven Improvement by Sector Winners
Colleges and Universities: Ursinus College (Collegeville, PA)
K-12 Schools: Lanikai School (Kailua, HI)
Grocers: Sprouts Farmers Market – 205 (Claremont, CA)
Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Goodkind (Milwaukee, WI)
Sports and Entertainment Venues: Chumash Casino Resort (Santa Ynez, CA)
Hotels, Resorts, and Lodging: Ortega National Parks, LLC – Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company (Carlsbad, NM)
Newcomer: Sprouts Farmers Market – 286 (La Habra, CA)
Other Sector: Town of New Paltz (New Paltz, NY)
Narrative Category Winners
Source Reduction: University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
Leadership: Sodexo (Gaithersburg, MD)
Innovation: Food Forward (Los Angeles, CA)
Education and Outreach: Ramona High School (Ramona, CA
Endorsers: Northeast Recycling Council (Brattleboro, VT)
For more information on the 2030 national food loss reduction goal, visit this page on the EPA website.