Food waste avoids landfills through EPA programs

Nov. 16, 2015

Nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food were diverted from entering landfills in 2014 through a Food Recovery Challenge program. Nearly 88,600 tons of that amount were donated to people in need.

Nearly 606,000 tons of wasted food were diverted from entering landfills in 2014 through a Food Recovery Challenge program. Nearly 88,600 tons of that amount were donated to people in need.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the 29 participants and endorsers of its Food Recovery Challenge programs as well as its WasteWise program last week. The initiatives decrease wasted food and municipal and industrial wastes through sustainable materials management practices.

"These innovative efforts will help us achieve our ambitious national wasted food reduction goal – a 50 percent reduction by 2030," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "I encourage other organizations to follow their lead by joining the Food Recovery Challenge."

EPA provides tools, resources and support to help participants establish baselines, set objectives, track progress and realize their waste prevention and reduction goals. Along the way, EPA reviews the data submitted by participants through a quality assurance process.

In 2014, nearly 800 governments, businesses and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, including grocers, educational institutions, sports and entertainment venues and restaurants. University dining staff made creative re-use of trimmings by, while others donated excess, wholesome food to food banks and shelters and soup kitchens or composted in urban settings.

WasteWise participants also prevented and diverted more than 6.7 million tons of municipal and industrial waste from being disposed. Together colleges and universities, federal, local and tribal governments, businesses and non-profit organizations used waste prevention and recycling initiatives to reduce waste and increase efficiencies in their operations.

EPA recognized Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers for being data-driven with the highest percent of wasted food prevention and diversion, and for being narrative for excelling in source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach, and endorsement. These winners are:


  • Colleges and Universities: Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts
  • K-12 Schools: Pearl City High School, Honolulu, Hawaii
  •  Grocers: Sprouts Farmers Market: 24, Tucson, Arizona
  • Hospitality: Ortega National Parks, LLC: White Sands Trading Company, Alamogordo, New Mexico
  • Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Serendipity Catering, Denver, Colorado
  • Sports and Entertainment Venues: SAVOR…Chicago-McCormick Place South, Chicago Illinois
  • Other Organization: Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Theo Lacy Facility, Orange, California


  •  Source Reduction Winner: University California (UC), Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
  • Source Reduction Honorable Mention: Clark University, Worchester, Massachusetts
  • Leadership Winner: MB Financial Park at Rosemont/Village of Rosemont, Rosemont, Illinois
  • Innovation Winner: Crystal Creamery, Modesto, California
  • Innovation Honorable Mention: City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Prison System, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • Education and Outreach Winner: Keene State College, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Endorser Winner: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

EPA also recognized WasteWise participants for annual improvement, overall improvement and waste prevention performance by sector in 2014. Additionally, the endorser award recognizes outstanding efforts to promote to program. These winners were:

  • Federal Government Winner: U.S. Postal Service Headquarters Facilities, Orlando, Florida
  • Federal Government Honorable Mention: The Presidio Trust, San Francisco, California
  • Tribal Government Winner: Chumash Casino Resort, Santa Ynez, California
  • Local Government Winner: City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Small Business Winner: Exel Lockport, Lockport, New York
  • Small Business Honorable Mention: Command Packaging, Vernon, California
  • Mid-Size Business Winner: Madison Precision Products, Madison, Indiana
  • Large Business Winner: Commonwealth Edison Company, Terrace, Illinois
  • Large Business Honorable Mention: Rooms to Go, Suwanee, Georgia
  • Very Large Business Winner: Toyota Motor North America, Torrance, California
  • Very Large Business Honorable Mention: Kohl’s Department Stores, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
  • College and University Winner: Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • College and University Winner: Clark University, Worchester, Massachusetts
  • Non-profit Organization Winner: Cannon Grange #152, Wilton, Connecticut
  • Endorser Winner: Global Fiberglass Solutions, Inc., Bellevue, Washington

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