The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has nationally recognized the exceptional accomplishments of 15 businesses and organizations participating in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. This year’s national award winners applied innovative approaches and engaged in a variety of practical cost-effective actions and best practices to prevent and reduce food waste.
“Food Recovery Challenge participants are leaders in showing how preventing food waste and diverting excess wholesome food to people is an environmental win and a cost-saving business decision.” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Their accomplishments serve as excellent examples to other companies, governments, organizations and communities.”
Food is a valuable resource. Efforts to reduce food waste and ensure excess food doesn’t go to waste are needed now more than ever. The innovation these businesses are showcasing can also serve as an example as the nation works together to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2019. Participants prevented or diverted over 815,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $42.3 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.
This year’s winners used innovative best practices to prevent and reduce food waste, such as:
- Expanding composting infrastructure to more than double yearly food waste composted,
- Creatively working with food banks and organizations to donate food that would otherwise be wasted,
- Repurposing wholesome food into new dishes instead of letting it go to waste, and
- Initiating programs that encourage composting and reducing food waste in the workplace.
EPA is recognizing Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers with awards in two categories: Data-driven and Narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percent increases in their sector comparing year to year data. Narrative award winners made notable achievements in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach and endorsement.
Data-Driven Award Winners by Sector
- Grocers: Sprouts Farmers Markets Store #407 (Alhambra, California)
- Colleges and Universities: Keene State College (Keene, New Hampshire)
- K-12 Schools: Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School (Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts)
- Sports and Entertainment Venues: Savor…Chicago at McCormick Place – South Building (Chicago, Illinois)
- Hotels, Resorts and Lodging: MGM Resorts International – Bellagio Hotel and Casino Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- State/Tribal/Local Government: Los Angeles County Department of Public Works – Environmental Programs Division (Los Angeles, California)
- Non–Profit: ProduceGood (Encinitas, California)
- Food Manufacturing: Signature Breads, Inc. (Chelsea, Massachusetts)
- Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Captain’s Galley Restaurant at Pickwick Landing State Park (Counce, Tennessee)
Narrative Award Winners
- Source Reduction: Wylie ISD Birmingham Elementary (Wylie, Texas)
- Leadership: Firekeepers Casino Hotel – Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (Battle Creek, Michigan)
- Leadership – Honorable Mention: Wylie ISD Harrison Intermediate School (Wylie, Texas)
- Innovation: Windward Zero Waste School Hui (Kailua, Hawaii)
- Education and Outreach: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Los Angeles, California)
- Endorser: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (Nashville, Tennessee)
Food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year in our daily trash. In 2017, more than 40 million tons of food waste was generated. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, our communities and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food. At the same time, approximately 11 percent of America’s households had difficulty providing enough food for all of their family members in 2018. Hungry people in need would benefit from the redirection of nutritious, wholesome food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The strategies used by Food Recovery Challenge organizations, plus those implemented by individuals, communities and public-private partnerships help to lessen these impacts and bring the United States closer to meeting the national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.
Two award winners this year, MGM Resorts International and Sprouts Farmers Market, are also U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, a group of businesses and organizations who have publicly committed to reduce food loss and waste by 50 percent in their own operations by the year 2030.
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