Press Release: State, Local Officials Gather to Discuss the Issue of Wasted Food in Rhode Island

November 20, 2018

For Further information:
Lorenzo Macaluso, CET, 413-218-1543


ANNOUNCEMENT EVENT TODAY:

  • Buxton Hollow Farm, North Smithfield, RI
  • 10:30 a.m.
  • Photo Op: compost operation tour

State, Local Officials Gather to Discuss the Issue of Wasted Food in Rhode Island
The Center for EcoTechnology has received federal funding to help address the critical issue

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

Meanwhile, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 40% of food in the USA goes uneaten. This wasted food is valued at approximately $165 billion annually and when disposed of in a landfill, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. 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.

New Federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) will address this issue by providing technical assistance to help businesses and institutions reduce wasted food.

The funding was announced today by Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin at Buxton Hollow Farm in North Smithfield. The announcement also highlighted the farm’s impressive compost operation, run by The Compost Plant.

With the Federal funds it has received, CET expects to provide technical assistance to many businesses across the state to successfully and cost effectively implement strategies to address their wasted food.  These efforts will also help businesses like the Compost Plant, grow and succeed.

“The amount of food that is wasted every year is staggering,” said Congressman Langevin, who has convened a Rhode Island Food Advisory Committee to better understand the agriculture and dining landscape in the state. “That’s why I’m thrilled that the Center for EcoTechnology has secured federal funding to help businesses across Rhode Island address this problem through efficient and cost-effective strategies. Food is a precious resource, and we cannot afford to waste it.”

This effort will build on CET’s work over the past two years in Rhode Island which has been supported by USDA and the US EPA.  The Fink Family Foundation, Rathmann Foundation and Claneil Foundation are also supporting CET’s efforts to address this issue throughout the northeast and nationally.

“EPA and USDA have a national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030. We look to our public and private partners to make progress toward that goal,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn. “EPA is pleased to give CET a $25,000 Healthy Communities grant to help them work with various entities around the state of Rhode Island on food waste reduction.”

USDA State Director George Krivda adds “My boss, The Secretary of Agriculture has a moto “Do good, and feed everybody.” As we are preparing for Thanksgiving Day meals around the table with families and friends, we must look at the effort that goes into creating that meal. This begins with the farmers, small businesses and producers before it ultimately ends up on your table. We are expertly managing this local food supply chain. What the Center for EcoTechnology is bringing to the table is a plan on what to do after you get sick of those leftovers and start freeing up room in your fridge. All joking aside, food waste is a serious problem and CET, the EPA, USDA and all of our partners are addressing food waste to feed people and animals, create compost to help meet our growing food needs and to generate energy all through these innovative food scrap diversion programs.”

“On Thanksgiving, many of us will reflect on how lucky we are to have abundant, wholesome food to eat,” said RI Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. “Some of us, however, are not as lucky. Making it worse is that good, nutritious food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills. To improve food security and conserve resources, I applaud this much-needed federal grant, with which CET will provide training on food waste diversion and help forward-thinking Rhode Island companies like Buxton Hollow Farm.”

“CET is poised to leverage its experience and marketplace knowledge to help Rhode Island businesses implement effective food scrap diversion programs,” said Lorenzo Macaluso, a Director at CET. “Support from USDA,  EPA and Foundations, are enabling us to catalyze Rhode Island’s growing capacity and infrastructure for reducing food waste. Our work will help food businesses cost-effectively comply with laws, and capture potential cost savings. At the same time, these efforts will improve market opportunities for new technology applications that prevent food waste, food rescue organizations that are helping get food that would have been wasted to our food insecure, and haulers, composters, and anaerobic digesters that will process the rest.”

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About the Center for EcoTechnology:

The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) is a non-profit organization that helps people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. CET acts as a catalyst to accelerate the development of a vibrant marketplace to divert wasted food from the commercial and institutional sectors. We have been a leader in the wasted food reduction and diversion movement for more than 20 years, implementing some of the first wasted food composting programs in the country, and contributing to effective public policy. 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. When it comes to wasted food, we are addressing the issue in a in a variety of ways:

  • We offer program design and implementation services throughout the Northeast U.S. and beyond, and consulting services to provide information and advice nationally.
  • Business and institution recycling technical assistance through RecyclingWorksMA, a program funded by Mass. Dept of Environmental Protection and managed and delivered by 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

In addition to our work in Wasted Food Solutions, we’re moving the needle toward a more sustainable future in other ways as well:

  • Our store, EcoBuilding Bargains, is the largest reused building materials retail store in New England, which diverts more than 300 tons of materials each year from landfills.
  • We provide residential and commercial energy efficiency services.
  • We offer New England’s leading fellowship program for emerging environmental professionals.

For more information about CET, visit cetonline.org, wastedfood.cetonline.org, and www.ecobuildingbargains.org. Contact Emily Gaylord, Director of Communications & Engagement, at emily.gaylord@cetonline.org or 413.687.2132.

 

2 comments


  • Andy Radin

    Can you explain exactly how the $25,000 will be used? Thank you

    November 22, 2018
    • CET

      Hi Andy! CET received an EPA Healthy Communities Grant for Providence County, a grant which wrapped up this fall with the event at Buxton Hollow Farm. With those previous funds, and current support from USDA and foundations, we are able to provide technical assistance to businesses and institutions in Rhode Island and across the northeast to implement successful and cost-effective strategies to reduce and recover wasted food. These efforts will also help service providers, such as food rescue organizations, haulers, and processors, grow and succeed. Technical assistance may include, but is not limited to, program evaluation, signage, training, and a cost analysis. If you have any questions, or need any assistance, we encourage you to check out our Wasted Food Solutions website and contact our hotline!

      November 29, 2018

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