Food production consumes enormous amounts of labor, investments, and natural resources. Yet, nearly 40% of the food produced in the US ends up uneaten. This bill helps address this problem and reduces food waste by encouraging supermarkets to donate edible, excess food.
Food waste is one of the most prevalent sources of waste in landfills, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas. New York has expressed serious commitment to tackling climate change, and this bill is one step in that direction. However, the negative environmental impacts of food waste are greater than most think. Food waste contributes to the growing solid waste crisis, causes land degradation, harms biodiversity, and squanders natural resources. From an economic standpoint, food waste means throwing money away: billions and billions of dollars every year are spent on producing, transporting, and disposing uneaten food.
In addition, this bill will also help address the problem of food insecurity. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 12.5% out of New York State’s 7.8 million households are food insecure and over 2.4 million New York State residents (11.9%) are food insecure. We cannot continue sending safe, edible food to landfills while millions of New Yorkers go hungry.
In 2017, the legislature passed legislation on food waste donation guidelines for educational institutions. Now is the time to continue the momentum and extend such efforts to supermarkets, where large portions of food waste are generated. This bill will help people in need, protect the environment, and conserve valuable resources.
This bill amends Article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law to requires supermarkets to donate excess food from time to time and to make good faith efforts to enter into agreements with qualifying entities such as food pantries, food banks, or similar organizations to make edible, excess food available for collection. Supermarkets are protected from liability for the food donated, short of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.