(11/18/2016 press release from the Center for EcoTechnology)
For many people in Connecticut, Thanksgiving is a time of family gatherings and enjoyable eating. It’s also a time when donations flood in from food rescue organizations to food pantries and soup kitchens, to ensure that the state’s hungriest people get warm, nutritious meals.
While Thanksgiving may put the spotlight on food insecurity, nearly half a million people in Connecticut, (according to the Connecticut Food Bank) including more than 140,000 children, do not have consistent access to adequate amounts of food year-around.
Meanwhile, nearly 520,000 tons of food waste is generated in Connecticut each year, some of which could be donated to feed people. 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 noted in the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s (DEEP’s) recently adopted Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy (CMMS).
- Based on a 2015 study, more than 925,000 tons per year of compostable materials (food waste, yard waste, and other organic materials) is thrown out in Connecticut. DEEP is interested in diverting as much of that material as possible, and has been collaborating with other partners on this important issue.
New Federal funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($25,000) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($75,000) to the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) will address this issue by launching technical assistance projects in Connecticut to help businesses reduce wasted food.
- This is the first time that both USDA and EPA have supported the same food waste initiative of one organization, since both agencies announced their joint goal to reduced wasted food by 50% by 2030.
The funding was announced today by Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Big Y World Class Markets, Rocky Hill. The announcement also highlighted BIG Y’s highly regarded efforts to divert food waste from the waste stream.
The Federal funding builds on a pilot program funded in 2015 by the Fink Family Foundation, in partnership with DEEP, to explore solutions to reduce and recycle commercial wasted food. That pilot program was developed and implemented by CET. CET is a non-profit organization that has decades of experience working successfully on this issue throughout New England.
- With the Federal funds it has received, CET expects to provide technical assistance to up to 20 businesses in 2017, and divert about 600 tons of wasted food from the trash.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “Food waste is a major component of our waste stream, and the sad truth is much of this food is tossed when it is perfectly good to eat and safe to consume. I applaud this new federal, state and local partnership to divert healthy food from landfills– helping feed the hungry, protect the environment, and save consumers and businesses money. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to advance the Food Recovery Act-comprehensive, commonsense legislation to reduce food waste, hunger and environmental harm.”
EPA Grant for “Don’t Waste Bridgeport”
The U.S EPA grant will help fund the “Don’t Waste Bridgeport” project, which seeks to redirect wasted food from schools and colleges, venues, supermarkets, and restaurants to food rescue and donation organizations in the city.
“Nationally food waste unnecessarily accounts 21% of all waste going to landfills and incinerators. We must work to divert wholesome food from going to waste,” said EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding. “Our Healthy Communities Grant to CET will help this effort by jumpstarting up to 10 food waste diversion projects with local businesses and institutions in Bridgeport.”
USDA Grant for “Connecticut Food Waste Technical Assistance”
The USDA Rural Business Development grant will fund the “Connecticut Food Waste Technical Assistance” initiative, which will be used by CET to help businesses, food rescue organizations, haulers and processing facilities divert wasted food from trash.
“Food waste is a significant problem, not only during the holidays but throughout the year.” said Scott J. Soares, State Director for Southern New England, “USDA Rural Development is proud to support CET in its food waste diversion efforts which address this problem that also combats food insecurity, supports rural job growth, contributes to renewable energy sources and creates important agricultural opportunities through the generation of compost. Ultimately this initiative allows the turning waste that otherwise can have environmental and cost implications into a community benefit.”
“Since Connecticut’s Commercial Organics Recycling Law went into effect in January 2014, it has been a priority of DEEP to provide outreach and assistance to food waste generators subject to that law,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “While this law has, as expected, led to the development of new composting and anaerobic digestion facilities to process food waste, DEEP also recognizes the importance of donation as an additional compliance option, one that is a higher tier on EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. The technical assistance that CET will be able to offer in Connecticut as a result of these EPA and USDA grants will enhance DEEP’s collaboration with ongoing outreach efforts.”
“CET is poised to leverage its experience and marketplace knowledge to help Connecticut businesses implement effective food scrap diversion programs,” said Lorenzo Macaluso, a Director at CET. “USDA and EPA support will enable us to build on the momentum we gained through working with the Fink Family Foundation to catalyze Connecticut’s growing capacity and infrastructure for reducing food waste. Our work will help businesses cost-effectively comply with laws, capture potential cost savings and improve market opportunities for food rescue organizations, haulers, composters, and anaerobic digesters.”
Center for EcoTechnology
The Center for EcoTechnology, a 501C3 based in Northampton, MA, helps people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. For 40 years CET has offered proven advice and resources that helps people and businesses save money and reduce environmental impact. 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. Among the programs we provide:
- Business and institution recycling technical assistance through RecyclingWorksMA, a program funded by Mass. Dept of Environmental Protection and managed and delivered through 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
- Wasted food diversion solutions and technical assistance for State agencies and the marketplace throughout New England.
- EcoBuilding Bargains, the largest reused building materials retail store in New England, which diverts more than 500 tons of materials each year from landfills.
- Residential and commercial energy efficiency services.
- New England’s leading fellowship program for emerging environmental professionals.
Contact Dave Orsman, director of marketing and development, at [email protected] or 413.575.8322.
CT DEEP is the state agency charged with conserving, improving and protecting our
natural resources and the environment – and bringing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to this state’s families and businesses.
DEEP recently adopted a 2016 Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy. This strategy is designed to achieve 60 percent diversion of waste from disposal by the year 2024 by reducing waste, increasing reuse, recycling, and composting, and focusing on the development of waste conversion technologies.