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Food waste diversion law takes effect in New York

As of Jan. 1, New York joined the growing list of states with bans and other restrictions on landfilling food waste. The state now requires its largest generators of food waste to implement food waste diversion practices.

The law, passed as part of the New York state budget in 2019, states that businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of 2 tons of wasted food per week will need to either donate excess edible food or recycle remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler, such as a composting facility or an anaerobic digester.

However, the law does not apply to New York City, which has a local law requiring large generators to divert food scraps from disposal.

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New York City, the state law is a critical step in reducing the amount of food going to waste in New York, where about 7.8 billion pounds of food go to landfill each year.

“What’s most exciting about New York’s Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law is the explicit codification of the food recovery hierarchy and inclusion of solutions that go further up the hierarchy, including food rescue and encouraging food waste prevention,” according to the NRDC.

The state also has made funding available for the food rescue community to improve infrastructure, such as adding refrigerated trucks and storage needed for increased donations. These kinds of actions further up the hierarchy are essential to more fully realizing the environmental and social benefits of preventing food waste.