TRENTON- Legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Bob Smith to address food waste reduction in New Jersey was signed into law yesterday by the Governor.
“This law addresses the pressing need for food donations and the reduction of waste in a state with far too many residents suffering from hunger. It would also curb the damage caused by food waste to the environment,” said Senator Greenstein. “I’m pleased this was signed into law and look forward to seeing both the environmental and humanitarian impact this initiative will have in New Jersey.”
The new law, A-3056, would require the Department of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to establish, or work with appropriate nonprofit organizations to establish, voluntary guidelines to encourage and facilitate the ability of K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.
“Wasting food does not make economic or environmental sense. In the United States, millions of tons of food that are still fit for consumption are wasted and dumped. It is incumbent upon us to take action. This law will see less food go to waste and encourage distribution to those in need,” said Senator Smith.
Americans waste a shocking amount of food every year with as much as 40 percent of the food in the U.S. going uneaten. This accounts for 160 billion pounds of food wasted each year. These statistics are made even worse when you consider that 42.2 million Americans live in food insecure household, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2012, the United States threw away more than 36 million tons of food; from that, less than 5 percent was recycled. Much of it ended up rotting in landfills, releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. The EPA estimates that if 50 percent of the food waste generated each year in the U.S. were anaerobically digested, enough electricity would be generated to power 2.5 million homes for a year.
The bill, also sponsored by Senator Diane Allen and Christopher “Kip” Bateman, was approved by the Senate in May and the Assembly in June. The law takes effect immediately.