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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Waste Not: New Jersey Law Mandates Food Waste Plan

New Jersey lawmakers want to tackle climate change and hunger by reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfills.

food scraping

Photo: jbloom (Flickr)

About 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. ends up in the trash, where it emits methane into the atmosphere.

New Jersey dumpster divers, take note! A new law aims to cut the state’s food waste in half.

Senate Bill 3027 is a unanimous bipartisan measure signed into law by New Jersey governor Chris Christie last week. Its goals are twofold: to reduce the state’s contribution to climate change, and to provide more food for the hungry by reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfills every year.

The law gives state legislators one year to come up with a plan for halving food waste by 2030.

About 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. ends up in the trash. All of that rotting food and produce emits methane into the atmosphere. It takes about 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year to process uneaten food – not to mention the wasted energy that goes into producing it in the first place.

New Jersey legislature is also considering other bills to supplement the state’s new food waste law. One bill requires supermarkets, restaurants and other large generators of food waste to separate discarded food from other trash and recycle it. Another establishes new food labeling standards to reduce waste and incentivize food donations.

At least five other states have similar laws that either ban organic waste from landfills or mandate food waste recycling, according to a report by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.

And just this week, two Democratic lawmakers proposed the Food Recovery Act, encouraging standardization of food date labels and purchase of “ugly” fruits and vegetables by school cafeterias.

Read More:

  • New Jersey is cutting food waste to help the climate (Salon)
  • New Source For Food Packaging: Food Waste (Earth Eats)
  • Lawmakers Want to take Bite Out of Food Waste With New Bill (U.S. News & World Report)
Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough has degrees anthropology and journalism. She has worked with the oral history project StoryCorps. A nomad at heart, she recently returned to Louisville, Kentucky, where's she's excited to have her own kitchen and garden again.

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