New York is making important strides toward reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, recently agreed to a new food waste initiative with the state legislature that will recycle scraps and send wholesome food to people in need.

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The new law is called the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act. Once the bill goes into practice, all surplus food items will be donated to local food shelters while any scraps will be sent to recycling centers, preventing a large portion of food from entering the waste stream.

Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now

Food waste is a growing concern in the United States. According to NRDC, experts estimate that around 40 percent of food ends up in the waste bin on an annual basis. In New York City, this statistic is particularly alarming given that there are close to 2.5 million people in the city who struggle to find food.

Food comprises around 18 percent of solid waste, most of which ends up in landfills across the country. Food breaks down easily in the landfill, but the process results in methane gas. You also have to account for wasting all the energy it took to create that food, including water and labor.

Governor Cuomo hopes that the new bill will help prevent the majority of food waste from ending up in the landfill. The law will require facilities that create food waste to mark any excess for donation. Once things are in full swing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation believes that it will save around 250,000 tons of food on a yearly basis.

The top priority of the new law is to feed people in need. Following that, any food scraps will be donated for animal feed, followed by industrial uses — such as oil rendering — and composting. The new food waste law will not go into effect in New York City, because there is a similar law already in place.


Image via Jasmin S.