Food waste diversion law takes effect in New York

Food waste diversion law takes effect in New York

Businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of 2 tons of food waste per week will now be required to donate edible food or recycle food scraps.

January 14, 2022

As of Jan. 1, New York joined the growing list of states with bans and other restrictions on landfilling food waste. Alongside California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, New York now requires its largest generators of food waste to implement 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 two 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 (composting facility, anaerobic digester, etc.).

However, the law does not apply to New York City (which already has a local law in place requiring the diversion of food scraps from disposal), hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 schools or farms.

As stated by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), this new law is a critical step in beginning to stem the tide of food going to waste in New York, where an estimated 7.8 billion pounds of food is going to waste each year, generating more greenhouse gasses (GHGs) than four million passenger cars driven for a 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,” NRDC says.

In addition to the law itself, the state has allocated funding that supports food waste work from prevention through recycling. The state has also made funding available for the food rescue community to improve their infrastructure, such as by 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