Skip to content

Emily Broad Leib et al., Fresh Look At Organics Bans And Waste Recycling Laws, 57 BioCycle 16 (2016).

Abstract: Approximately 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is wasted annually. At a time when millions of Americans are food insecure and thousands of farmers struggle to stay afloat, the negative consequences of wasting food extend far beyond the environmental impacts and loss of resources that could have been otherwise allocated. There are great opportunities for food waste reduction at the federal level, but much can be done by states and localities, whose involvement in finding solutions to food waste and food recovery is vital. In recent years, states and localities have taken many steps to reduce food waste and enhance food recovery by providing state tax incentives to food donors, allocating funding to support food recovery and diversion infrastructure, reevaluating how schools handle food waste, and passing laws that ban organic waste from landfills. This article is excerpted from a newly released toolkit from the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) titled, “Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities,” which provides comprehensive information on eight different policy areas that states and localities can consider as they ramp up efforts to reduce food waste. Organic waste (organics) bans and waste recycling laws are one of eight solutions described in the toolkit (see Sidebar for other seven) to keep food waste out of the landfill. In addition to describing existing state and municipal organics bans and waste recycling laws, FLPC discusses why these laws provide promising models for other states and localities, and how they could be implemented and strengthened to increase diversion of food waste from landfills.