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It’s Never too Early

October 11, 2017

The holiday season will be upon us in no time. It’s always a good time to think about ways to reduce food waste, but during the holidays it becomes even more important since the volume of food waste generated rises dramatically.

NERC’s new Food Recovery Hierarchy Compendium--Programs and Strategies is a resource to assist decision makers, materials management staff, nonprofit organizations, citizen activists, and others in implementing and expanding Food Recovery Hierarchy programs. The Compendium presents best management practices for developing and implementing programs that promote the “hierarchy” of organics management—reduce, reuse (recover), recycle (compost or anaerobic digestion).

Here are just a few wasted food reduction examples from the Compendium:

  • The Ugly Fruit & Veg Campaign uses images of less than perfect produce, in order to highlight the 20-40% of all produce that goes to waste due to strict grocer cosmetic standards. Images and “ugly produce” facts and tips for action are posted on the Campaign’s Twitter, Instagram, We Heart It, and Facebook social media platforms. The website hosts an Ugly Fruit And Veg Supermarket Directory listing retailers that market “misfit” produce.
  • The FoodKeeper App, developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, helps consumers understand food and beverage storage in order to maximize the freshness and quality of items. It is also available as a mobile application for Android and Apple.
  • Food Policy Action is a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. Its goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues.
  • Further With Food was initiated through a public-private partnership between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Feeding America, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the National Consumers League, the National Restaurant Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund, with funding and collaboration from the Rockefeller Foundation. The website’s “virtual resource center” serves as a platform for businesses, government entities, investors, NGOs, academics, and individuals to find and share information about solutions and innovative new approaches to reduce the volume of surplus food generated, feeding hungry people, and diverting food and scraps to the highest beneficial use.
  • GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current industrial food system, and to advocate for more sustainable alternatives. Their Food Waste resources include an overview of where and how food waste occurs, the drivers of food waste, and environmental impacts and Food Date Labeling.
  • LeanPath assists commercial kitchens prevent food waste through the use of food waste “smart meters.” Its food waste tracking systems help restaurants, institutions, and other entities reduce food waste costs through tracking and evaluating waste so that it can be better managed. The company provides technical assistance to users of its systems. LeanPath also has numerous resources on waste food reduction, recovery options, and diversion, and sponsors webinars.
  • National Center for Home Food Preservation is a resource for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation.
  • The National Restaurant Association's ConServe program provides information to help restaurants reduce food waste and donate edible food. Its website hosts a Best Practices section with tips for reducing food waste; it also has a number of “how to” videos for restaurateurs. The Tools & Solutions web page with information on donating food, zero waste, and more.
  • ReFED is a collaboration of business, nonprofit, foundation, and government leaders dedicated to reducing food waste in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2030. In March 2016, ReFED released the Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, an economic study of food waste aimed at providing a feasible guide for action. It features 27 of the most cost-effective ways to reduce food waste based on societal economic value, business profit potential, and other non-financial impacts. ReFed Innovator Database is an updated compilation of commercial and nonprofit entities turning the food waste problem into an opportunity. The database can be searched by food waste solution type, organizational status, and geographic reach.
  • Save the Food is a national food waste reduction campaign sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ad Council. The campaign targets U.S. consumers and strives to raise awareness about the fact that consumers contribute to about forty percent of food thrown away. Their PSA video, “The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry,” follows the life of a strawberry from the field to consumer’s refrigerator.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sustainable Management of Food website hosts various resources for reducing, recovering, and diverting food scraps, including: Wasted Food Programs and Resources Across the United States. EPA and the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum developed the Food: Too Good to Waste toolkit which can be customized and used by any community. The toolkit demonstrates how to reduce wasteful household food consumption by focusing on social marketing incentives and messages directed at individuals within targeted communities.
  • World Resources Institute works on six critical goals for the world to secure a sustainable future, including Food. WRI conducts research and has numerous publications, including the 2017 Companies Save Money by Reducing Food Loss and Waste.


By Athena Lee Bradley

NERC’s new Food Recovery Hierarchy Compendium--Programs and Strategies was developed through its USDA funded Implementing the Food Recovery Hierarchy In Rural Vermont Communities project.

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