Federal lawmakers reintroduce bills calling for billions in food waste recycling and prevention grants

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Two bills meant to provide billions of dollars in funding for food waste prevention efforts and support composting projects have been reintroduced in Congress.

The Zero Food Waste Act would offer U.S. EPA grants over ten years for projects that divert or prevent food waste or gather data about food waste practices. The Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques Act (COMPOST Act) would offer grants and loans for both large-scale and smaller-scale composting infrastructure. 

DOE report touts chemical recycling R&D opportunities while noting plastic’s environmental justice issues

Read the full story at Waste Dive and download the report.

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to invest in long-term research and development to improve existing plastic recycling technologies and invent new methods it hopes will cut U.S. energy consumption and prevent pollution.

The DOE recently published its Strategy for Plastics Innovation report, which calls for advancing certain chemical recycling technologies and improving mechanical recycling. It also calls for doing more with biodegradable and bio-based plastics technology and approaching R&D projects with a more intentional environmental justice focus. 

How the US can radically improve chemical safety

Read the full story at The Hill.

In the U.S., most chemicals have been considered innocent until proven guilty. They’re entered into use with little to no information about their safety, and if suspicion of harm arises, federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must do complex risk assessments to prove people are exposed at high enough concentrations to warrant action. This can take years or decades per chemical, and there are tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce today. 

Sound inefficient? Well, leading scientists agree. That’s why a more common-sense idea is gaining traction. The “essential-use approach” is quite simple in theory: If a chemical is harmful, or suspected of being harmful, it should be restricted to only those uses that are essential — and only until safer alternatives are developed. One can hardly find fault with that logic. Are antimicrobial socks or waterproof bathing suits essential enough to risk the use of harmful chemicals? Not likely. But we may need these chemicals in some surgical gowns or firefighting gear, at least until a safer alternative is developed. 

This approach is being adopted by the E.U. and several U.S. states. However, in practice, how to apply it is still being hammered out. In a new paper, we join other scientists from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and academia in providing specific recommendations for how the essential-use approach can be applied by governments and businesses wanting to remove harmful chemicals from commerce. 

U.S. national household food waste tracking identifies emerging trends

Read the full story at Waste360.

Food waste data collection has been largely inconsistent over the past few decades.

An increased focus on food insecurity and waste systems has improved data collection. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doled out $10.2 million to fund pilot projects aimed at food waste reduction and composting in 2022.

With the addition of funding from governmental, private and public entities, researchers across the globe are now honing in on solutions to food waste reduction. One such project dedicated to identifying and emerging trends has been a two-year effort at The Ohio State University (OSU).

6th Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) Report

Download the report.

CFP is a program of Clean Production Action and was co-founded by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the consultancy Pure Strategies, and Clean Production Action.

CFP includes two major initiatives for identifying and moving away from the use of chemicals of high concern (CoHCs) towards safer solutions. One initiative is the CFP Survey, a holistic assessment of where an organization is in its efforts to move beyond regulatory compliance towards best practices in chemicals management. The other initiative is the chemical footprint metric, a quantitative measure of the production and use of CoHCs. The chemical footprint metric is embedded into the CFP Survey and provides a means for companies to set goals, quantify their use of CoHCs, and measure progress.

Highlights from the 6th CFP Report

  • Companies with over $1 trillion in annual revenue from seven business sectors participated in the 2021 CFP Survey.
    Over one year, they reported chemical footprint reductions of 83.4 million pounds/37.8 million kilograms.
  • Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, surpassed its 10% chemical footprint reduction goal in formulated
    products by achieving a 17% reduction and encouraged suppliers to set impactful chemical footprint goals.
  • Reckitt, a major consumer goods company and retailer supplier with brands including Lysol, Woolite, and Calgon,
    announced it is “aiming for a 65% reduction in our chemical footprint by 2030.”
  • CFP Signatories including investors and retailers established the CFP Survey as a leadership framework in shareholder
    resolutions and benchmarking assessments.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its new proxy voting disclosure requirements for institutional
    investment managers listed “chemical footprint” among examples for “Environment or climate” reporting requirements.

Bob’s Red Mill sustainability manager talks food waste reduction initiative

Read the full story at Oregon Business.

Between May and October in 2022, Milwaukie food producer Bob’s Red Mill participated in a case study with Pacific Coast Collaborative, the World Wildlife Fund, and sustainability consultant TripleWin Advisory, with the aim of generating employee-driven, ground-floor ideas for increasing company sustainability through a reduction in food waste.

According to the World Wildlife Fund food waste accounts for approximately 6%-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions – the carbon dioxide equivalent of 32.6 million cars.

The study, published through the World Wildlife Fund in December, found 22% of employees submitted food waste reduction ideas. For the study, Bob’s Red Mill chose to implement a conveyor belt technique which reduced oat overflow. The result was a 70% reduction in wasted food per pound of food produced on the line, according to the study.

Julia Person, sustainability manager at Bob’s Red Mill, tells Oregon Business the employee response, as well at the results of the study were better than the company could have imagined, and explained how employee-driven sustainability initiatives will be priority for the company moving forward.

Emerging technologies tackle upstream food waste

Read the full story at Food Business News.

Enhancing liquidation processes, reducing the impact of mycotoxins and extending the shelf life of products are just a handful of potential solutions for reducing food waste. ReFED also recommends farmers explore new arrangements with buyers to expand product specifications and enable better upstream communication. Building direct relationships with food recovery organizations and employing tools that track yield patterns also are avenues for mitigating waste at the farm level.

Opportunities exist for manufacturers to create more upcycled product lines using edible byproducts. ReFED also encourages manufacturers to consider reengineering processes and redesigning products to reduce waste during production and product line changeovers.

Stadiums pursue new technologies and tactics to boost waste diversion

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

As fans flock back to large venues, many are seeing new or updated waste initiatives. Operators are experimenting with different collection systems, reusable cups, reverse vending machines and more.

Eco-friendly paint most effective against fouling on ships and boats

Read the full story from Chalmers University of Technology.

Emissions from copper-based antifouling paints are a well-known environmental problem. As much as 40 percent of copper inputs to the Baltic Sea come from antifouling paints on ships and leisure boats. According to a new study, this is completely unnecessary. When the researchers compared copper-based antifouling paint with biocide-free silicone-based paint, they found that the environmentally friendly alternative was best at keeping the fouling at bay.

Pinch of salt: Keep exploring alternatives to de-ice roads, sidewalks

Read the editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times.

While neither the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department, nor the Illinois Department of Transportation is expected to completely cut out road salt, there should be a continual push to reduce the amount used by experimenting with more environmentally friendly products.