In an effort to reduce food waste, about 26 New England universities and colleges are together joining the EPA Food Recovery Challenge. By joining the challenge, campuses pledge to reduce, donate, and recycle as much of their excess food as possible.
Food waste generated by local institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities and restaurants is often actually safe, wholesome food that could feed millions of Americans, according to both the US Department of Agriculture and EPA. EPA is working with institutions and hunger-relief organizations to increase food donations. Composting food waste also leads to important environmental outcomes. Composted food waste creates a valuable soil product that can be used to enhance the quality of soils.
Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the generation of harmful gases that contribute to climate change. When food is disposed of in a landfill, it decomposes rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. After paper, food waste comprises the greatest volume of waste going into our nation’s landfills. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated but only 3 percent of this waste stream was diverted to composting.
The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely-used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed.
The complete list of colleges and universities who joined the program are:
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester
Lesley University, Cambridge
Salem State University, Salem
Westfield State University, Westfield
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Boston College, Chestnut Hill
Worcester State University, Worcester
Tufts University, Medford
Assumption College, Worcester
Wellesley College, Wellesley
Bentley College, Waltham
Johnson & Wales University, Providence
Roger Williams University, Bristol
University of Rhode Island, Kingston
University of Maine, Farmington
University of Maine, Orono
College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor
Lyndon State College in Lyndon
Johnson State College, Johnson
Vermont Technical College, Randolph
Plymouth State University, Plymouth
University of Connecticut, Storrs
Wesleyan University, Middletown