How will New York’s food waste law impact the state?


ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – As the New Year dawns, 1,334 businesses and organizations that serve food in New York City will need to legally manage their food waste in a specific way.

The Food Donation and Food Waste Recycling Act aims to help starving and overflowing landfills, but it’s up to the company to comply.

Have you ever wondered what makes up a landfill? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the most important category is food waste.

“I don’t think they realize it can be reused,” said Mairead O’Donnel, an environmental specialist at Siena College. “People think, ‘I’m not eating it, I’m just going to throw it out.'”

It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the global food supply becomes waste. In 2010, this waste totaled 133 billion pounds and 161 billion dollars in food.

By January 1, any business or institution that creates an average of two tonnes of food waste per week must manage its food waste in a specific way.

By law, they must donate edible food and compost remaining waste if the entity is within 40 kilometers of an organics recycler.

However, some will be excluded from the new requirement; hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, farms and K-12 schools don’t need to make any changes.

Colleges and universities are another story. The senior director of food services at Siena College said he has a head start because the college already has a composting system.

“We have about 3,500 students on campus, and they all have meal plans,” said Rachel Miller. “Composting is not pretty, but it is effective.

The biggest challenge for Siena’s food services will be to implement a sustainable plan to give leftover food edible.

“We might see an increase in spending, especially in the containers we have to put things in,” Miller said. “People are hungry, and if they can use the food, we should bring it to them.”

In January, Siena will also use part of its student body passionate about environmental issues.

“Especially in our generation, we can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” O’Donnell said. “We only have one Earth.”

Although the deadline for the new law is fast approaching, NEWS10 was unable to pinpoint how the law would be enforced or what penalties these entities would face if they did not comply.

NEWS10’s Stephanie Rivas contacted Feeding New York State, and executive director Dan Egan said this particular environmental law has no enforcement penalties.


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