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EPA Recognizes New England Institutions for Diverting Food Waste

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David Deegan (

BOSTON - A Vermont-based organization, the Northeast Recycling Council, was one of 13 organizations honored nationally today by EPA for their work in keeping wasted food out of landfills and incinerators. The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) won EPA's 2016 National Food Recovery Challenge Endorser Award for their food recovery outreach and technical assistance efforts to New England businesses.

EPA is also issuing "Food Recovery Challenge Regional Achievement Certificates" to 26 organizations in Conn., Mass., N.H. and Maine, and is issuing a Regional Endorser Award to Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

"EPA is proud to acknowledge the work and commitment shown by our New England Food Recovery Challenge awardees. These organizations are showing that protecting the environment, saving money and feeding the hungry can go hand in hand," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "It's true year-round, but especially important to keep in mind during the holidays when family and friends gather to enjoy celebratory meals, that our food should feed people and not landfills."

EPA is working to solve the wasted food problem and provide assistance to consumers, communities, organizations and businesses through our Sustainable Management of Food initiatives. The Food Recovery Challenge for which these organizations are being recognized is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials throughout its entire lifecycle. Organizations setting food waste reduction goals under the Food Recovery Challenge are helping to achieve the United States' first-ever National wasted food reduction goal of 50 percent reduction by 2030.

EPA is working with many partners to reduce wasted food and in 2015 EPA's Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted over 691,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators. Of this National total, almost 302,000 tons of food was donated to feed people in need. Since 2011, Food Recovery Challenge participants have reported diverting nearly 2.2 million tons of food through a variety of activities on the food recovery hierarchy.

EPA is also awarding a Regional Endorser Award to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for their creative partnerships and outreach to continue building awareness in Vermont residents, businesses, institutions and K-12 schools on the value of food. The collaboration between the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Foodbank increased food rescue in 2016 by 40 percent while reducing the amount of wholesome food headed for disposal.

In New England, 54 Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted over 52,000 tons of food to donation and/or composting in 2015. EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy is a tiered approach highlighting reduce wasted food first, then feed the people, feed the animals, followed by industrial uses for energy recovery and composting discouraging disposal to landfills or incinerators.

The following 26 New England organizations are receiving a "Regional Food Recovery Achievement Certificate" for their work reducing food waste:

Wesleyan University, Middletown
Whole Foods Market: Danbury, Fairfield and Darien

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
Big Y, headquarters in Springfield
Boston College, Chestnut Hill
Boston Red Sox in Boston
Boston Medical Center in Boston
BJs Wholesale Club, headquarters in Westborough
Framingham State University, Framingham
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Lesley University, Cambridge
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay
Northeastern University, Boston
Salem State University, Salem
Saunders Hotel Group: The Lenox, Boston
Saunders Hotel Group:  Comfort Inn & Suites, Revere
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Wellesley College, Wellesley
Whole Foods Market: North Atlantic Region, Cambridge

Hannaford Supermarkets, headquarters in Scarborough
University of Southern Maine, Portland

New Hampshire:
Keene State College, Keene

Americans throw out more food than any other type of waste, accounting for 21 percent of the American waste stream. In 2013, 37 million tons of food waste were generated, of which only 1.84 million tons (5 percent) were recovered, resulting in 35 million tons going into the nation's landfills.  Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the generation of harmful gases that contribute to climate change. When food is disposed of in a landfill, it decomposes rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Food and food scraps not fit for consumption can be used to feed the soil by composting or added to anaerobic digestion facilities, which produce biogas that can be used for energy.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12.7 percent of American households were uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all of their members at some time during 2015. In many cases, the food tossed into our nation's landfills is wholesome, edible food.

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