Wasted Food Reduction Across the Hierarchy at UMass Amherst

By Kevin Pink, Marketing & Development Assistant

EPA Food Recovery HierarchyIt’s no secret that wasted food is a big issue in America. According to the USDA, 30- 40% of food produced in this country goes uneaten every year. In 2010, this amounted to 133 billion pounds of food, worth $161 billion. This wasted food doesn’t go to the American households classified as food insecure (12.3% of American households in 2016), but instead often ends up in landfills, where it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Colleges and universities serve thousands of meals daily, and thus have the potential to produce a significant amount of wasted food. UMass Dining Services is the largest college dining services operation in the nation, serving 45,000 meals daily or 5.5 million meals per year. UMass takes a concerted approach to reducing wasted food along the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy.

So how is UMass addressing the Food Recovery Hierarchy? Here are a few examples!

Source Reduction: Reduce the volume of surplus food generated.

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When Beauty Standards Apply to Food

By Morgan O’Connor, Marketing & High Performance Building EcoFellow

Roughly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the U.S, and 6 billion of that is produce lost before harvesting or selling. This subset of food waste is attributed primarily to aesthetics, meaning the produce was too small, too large, off-colored, scarred, misshapen, etc.

6 billion pounds may not seem like very much in comparison to all of the food that is lost, but when you consider the resources – water, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, and space – that are expended on food that is never eaten, it leaves quite the negative impact.

Aesthetic standards prioritize uniformity, targeting the consumers’ narrow view of what their produce should look like, but these images in our heads have little to do with flavor or nutritional value. We have to rethink what our food should look like and embrace their natural peculiarities.

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Nutritious Food Waste: Waste Not, Want Not!

By Shomita Bhattacharya, Program Specialist

According to the USDA, America wastes 30-40% of our food supply every year. In 2010, this totaled 133 billion pounds of food, worth $161 billion! These are large numbers that describe the food waste of the entire nation, but what do they mean in terms of individuals like you and me? The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future analyzed the nutritional composition of wasted food in the United States, and found that on average, the amount of food wasted per person per day in the US is equivalent to:

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5 Ways to Green your Super Bowl Party

By Chiara Favaloro, Marketing Fellow 

1. Watch the game together- Gather a large group of friends to watch the game on one TV, in order to reduce the amount of electricity used while cheering on your favorite team.

2. Carpool to the party- Encourage your guests to carpool to your house to reduce carbon emissions and the amount of cars that have to fit in your driveway!

3. Make your own food- Buy ingredients in bulk and make your own food at home. Pre-made food is often sold in a lot of plastic packaging, especially when served as individual portions.

4. Buy beverages in bulk- Buying large bottles is often less expensive than buying individual cans and saves you the hassle of dealing with recycling all of those empty cans!

5. Don’t throw away leftovers- Distribute them among your guests to take home, donate them to those in need, or compost them.

 

Food Waste Initiative Creates Jobs in Massachusetts

To help businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and composting opportunities, the Center for EcoTechnology administers a program called  RecyclingWorksMA for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The agency has just released a report highlighting the economic benefits in Massachusetts of food waste reduction initiatives. The following post, with a link to the report, was originally posted on the RecyclingWorksMA blog.

And continuing the theme of economic successes in the state that are linked to environmental and economic sustainability initiatives, the Mass. Clean Energy Energy just released it’s annual Clean Energy Industry Report, which describes significant growth in this sector over 2015!


Yesterday, December 22, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) released a new report highlighting the positive economic benefits of reducing food waste. This report studied the effects of the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Ban, which prohibits businesses and institutions that generate one ton or more of food waste per week from disposing of that waste in the trash. About 1,700 facilities such as universities, supermarkets, food processors, hotels, conference centers, and restaurants are subject to the ban. This ban, which went into effect in October of 2014, was the nation’s first requiring commercial entities to divert wasted food from disposal via donation, animal feed, anaerobic digestion, or composting.

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