New York DEC proposes new regulations to improve food waste diversion

The proposed regulations would require composting and the donation of edible food by large food scrap generators, such as restaurants and supermarkets.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has proposed new regulations aimed at implementing a new statewide waste reduction initiative that supports food donations and food recycling.

According to the DEC, the proposed regulations would require composting and the donation of edible food by large food scrap generators, such as restaurants and supermarkets. Ultimately this requirement would prevent food scraps from ending up in landfills that contribute to climate change and connect hungry New Yorkers with food sources.

“Reducing food waste has significant environmental benefits, including creating useful compost and decreasing the amount of materials that would otherwise be sent to a landfill, eventually creating methane gas that contributes to climate change,” said Seggos. “Perhaps even more critical now, when so many New York families are struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic, these proposed regulations support initiatives to connect hungry people with edible food and support organizations like Feeding New York State that are working to reduce hunger in our communities.”

According to RochesterFirst.com, the draft regulations would implement the Food Donation and Food Recycling Act, which would officially go into effect January 2022.

The legislation defines a food scrap generator as an entity that generates and annual average of two tons of food scraps or more per week at a single location. This could include supermarkets, food service businesses, hotels, educational institutions, correctional facilities and entertainment venues. The proposal exempts New York City, hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and elementary and secondary schools.

It would also include the following:

  • Requirement of all designated food scrap generators to donate excess edible food and send food scraps to an organics recycler if one is available within 25 miles
  • Requirement that excess food must be donated and food scraps must be recycled if an organics facility is available
  • Annual reporting on data
  • Temporary waiver provision for generators that demonstrate a need to be excluded from certain requirements
  • Outlines requirements that apply to transporters, transfer facilities, landfills and combustion facilities

These regulations have been drafted and the DEC will accept public comments on the proposal through April 27.

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