Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced two bills, the Zero Food Waste Act and the Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques (COMPOST) Act, to reduce the amount of food wasted in the U.S. and to redirect food waste to composting projects. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. 

“Americans waste more than 40% of the food they purchase. More alarmingly, the food production and subsequent waste have significant impacts on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “Smart policies that curb food waste and promote composting will undoubtedly lessen the impacts of climate change. The Zero Food Waste Act and COMPOST Act incentivize and encourage farmers to implement more sustainable farming practices and provide local governments with the resources to develop strategies that will reduce the amount of food waste that local communities generate. We must take bold action in the fight to protect our resources and our environment for future generations, including through the development of sustainable food systems.”

“As a proud member of the House Agriculture Committee, reducing agriculture carbon emissions and ending hunger are among my top priorities in Congress,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02). “Two ways to help us reach those goals are maximizing the amount of food consumed, and when food must be thrown away, ensuring it is composted to enhance soil health – that’s why I’m excited to join Representatives Brownley and Pingree and Senator Booker to introduce the Zero Food Waste Act and the COMPOST Act. I look forward to advancing this legislation with our colleagues to support a more sustainable, more equitable agriculture system for generations to come.”

“Food waste has a massive environmental footprint and squanders perfectly good food as millions are going hungry. As the co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Food Recovery Caucus, I fully support Congresswoman Brownley’s bills to mitigate the environmental hazards posed by wasted food, boost composting efforts nationwide, and reduce the chance that food waste ends up turning into methane in a landfill,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

“The economic, environmental, and public health costs of our country’s food waste problem have become too large to ignore,” said Senator Cory Booker, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We need to invest in solutions that prevent food waste, divert it to hungry Americans, or if there’s no other option, ensure that food is composted instead of landfilled. My bills will help create such a system by funding local, state, and tribal projects to reduce food waste and encouraging the development of composting infrastructure.”

“Local and tribal governments are stepping up to reduce food waste as part of their climate action, but they can’t do it alone. The Zero Food Waste Act and the COMPOST Act, together, will provide the much-needed federal funds to support detailed planning and the robust infrastructure necessary to reduce food waste. Both will help local and tribal governments across the U.S. reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and asthma-causing pollution, conserve natural resources, create jobs, and ensure more good food is available to eat,” said Yvette Cabrera, Food Waste Director for the  Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Zero Food Waste Act

“Wasting less food can help alleviate rising food prices, climate change impacts, and supply chain disruptions in one fell swoop. As a strategy for dealing with these challenges and more, it’s a slam dunk, and the Zero Food Waste Act would be too,” said Dana Gunders, Executive Director of ReFED.

“Organic waste must be eliminated from landfills as a US and global imperative. Simply put, food and organic material is too valuable to throw away. The Zero Food Waste Act would support state, local, and tribal communities making the policy changes and infrastructure investments needed to develop a circular food economy, invest in community health and agricultural jobs, and curb methane emissions. By leading here at home, the US can show the world how to invest in a food system where people and nature thrive,” said Pete Pearson, Global Food Loss and Waste Lead, World Wildlife Fund. 

“As part of our commitment to helping reduce the 54 million tons of food waste every year in the United States, Hellmann’s is a proud supporter of the Zero Food Waste Act. We believe this bill is a critical step towards providing communities across the country with the tools and support they need to be more resourceful with food,” said Ben Crook, Vice President/GM, Dressings & Condiments (NA) at Unilever.

In the U.S., nearly half of all food produced is lost or wasted, which means an estimated $408 billion is spent on growing, processing, transporting, storing, and disposing of food that is never consumed. Landfills are now the third-largest source of methane in the U.S., and food is the single largest input by weight in our landfills and incinerators.

This bill would create a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administered grant program for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and for nonprofits, which would offer three types of grants: planning grants, measurement grants, and reduction grants. Planning grants could be used to investigate the kinds of food waste mitigation projects or policies would be most impactful within a given community. Measurement grants could be used to better understand the amount of food waste generated in the state or community.

Reduction grants could be used to fund an assortment of different types of projects. For instance, food waste prevention projects could stop the generation of food waste. Recycling projects could reuse food waste as a feedstock for other non-food products, such as composting. Rescuing projects could redirect surplus food to places like food shelters. Upcycling projects could make new food from ingredients that would otherwise go to landfills. Additionally, localities could use the grant funding to implement food waste landfill disposal or incineration restrictions designed to stop food waste.

The text of the bill can be found here.

Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques (COMPOST) Act

Composting is one of the most environmentally friendly means of disposing of food waste and other organic waste. Not only does composting emit a smaller quantity of greenhouse gasses compared to alternative disposal methods, it also yields a valuable soil additive that enhances soil health, which in turn makes the soil a better absorber of carbon, while also making the land more resilient to climate change-fueled disasters like wildfires and floods. Additionally, while there is growing interest by individuals and businesses across the country to compost food scraps and compostable packaging, there is not enough composting infrastructure in the U.S. to meet this demand.

This bill would add composting as a conservation practice for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. Both the act of producing compost from organic waste and using compost on a farm would qualify as a conservation practice. It also would create new USDA grant and loan guarantee programs for composting infrastructure projects, including both large-scale composting facilities as well as farm, home, or community-based projects.

The text of the bill can be found here.


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