California is Working to Curb its Food Waste

Many organizations have their own initiatives to increase awareness concerning food waste, as well as efforts to reduce food waste, as the issue has garnered national attention for its urgency.

Here are some ways that California has taken the lead on the fight against food waste.

For the first time ever CalRecycle, the state’s recycling agency, is offering $5 million through the Food Waste Prevention & Rescue Grant Program. Eligible projects include:

  1. Projects preventing food waste from being generated and becoming waste destined for landfills; and
  2. Food rescue projects that result in rescued food being distributed to people.

The grant application deadline is July 18. Program funding ranges from $25,000 to $500,000. This program is the first of its kind in California and offers groups such as food banks and food pantries funding from the state to acquire much needed resources like refrigerated trucks and staff time. Take advantage of this while you can!

CalRecycle, in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board, is also holding public workshops and requesting public input for policy implementation recommendations for achieving the goals and mandates set forth in SB 1383, the Short Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Act. One of those mandates includes a 20% reduction in edible food waste that is sent to landfills by 2025. These initiatives will help the state get one step closer to realizing our edible food recovery goals.

National trade associations have joined forces to standardize date labeling on food packaging among their members. The initiative would result in only two phrases used on packaging (“BEST If Used By” for quality and “USE By” for safety), instead of the plethora currently in use that lead to consumer confusion, and ultimately, food waste. This food date label initiative, along with CAW sponsored legislation AB 954 (Chiu), encourages manufacturers to use uniform phrases. However, these efforts will eventually lead to more widespread use of these uniform phrases for date labels that will decrease food waste.

AB 1219 (Eggman), the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which CAW is a co-sponsor alongside the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB), provides statewide outreach for Good Samaritan laws which protect good faith food donors along, which is something that has not yet been done. Despite existing federal and state protections, many businesses are still fearful of being sued because of donated food.

AB 954 and AB 1219 have both passed the Assembly, Senate policy committees, and will now be heard in the Senate’s fiscal committee before being voted on by the entire Senate floor. Read more about these measures here.

The consequences of food waste and the ways in which food waste can be avoided are slowly becoming better understood and more widely discussed. Let’s keep food waste on our state’s agenda, and we’ll find more ways to waste less good food and help the Earth too.

Learn more about Food Waste »

Learn more about AB 954 (Chiu) The Food Waste Reduction & Date Labeling Act »

Learn more about AB 1219 (Eggman) The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act »