Food is a valuable resource, and has social, environmental, and economic value. Edible and inedible food reaches landfills more than any other single material in everyday trash. With 1 in 6 Washingtonians being food insecure, it is important to prevent and reduce food waste in the first place.
In April 2019, the Washington Legislature passed the Food Waste Reduction Act. This law tasks us — along with the Washington departments of Health, Agriculture, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction — to write a food waste prevention plan. This plan will recommend actions to achieve a 50% reduction in food waste in Washington by 2030. We will use 2015 waste disposal figures as the baseline for this goal.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Waste Reduction Model (WARM) estimates that hitting 50% food reduction would:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide
- This equates to nearly 345,000 passenger vehicles taken off Washington's roads and more than 184,000 gallons of gas that's never burned.
Requirements of the Food Waste Reduction Act
As we write the Food Waste Prevention Plan we will be following these requirements:
- Recommend regulations that support safe food donations
- Stable funding for food waste reduction efforts and food waste management
- Technical support for organizations working in food waste recovery and prevention
- Help develop K–12 food waste reduction
- Facilitate safe food donations from restaurants and food markets
- Recommend best management practices for local governments to incorporate into their local solid waste management plans
The finalized plan is due to the Washington Legislature by Oct. 1, 2020.