Crucial Bill that Tackles Food Waste Included in the New York State Budget

NEW YORK – New York lawmakers took a bold step to reduce food waste with the inclusion of the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act in the state’s 2020 budget. The bill is a critical step to get healthy food to New Yorkers in need and fight climate change.

The bill requires the state’s largest generators of food waste - like restaurants, supermarkets, colleges, sports stadiums, and others - to begin recycling their food scraps, provided that adequate processing capacity exists within 25 miles.

In addition, it will increase food donations in New York by requiring the state’s largest food waste generators to separate for donation wholesome, pre-consumer surplus food.

A statement follows from Margaret Brown, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This is a triumph for New Yorkers that will help fight climate change and boost food donation at the same time. Wasted food is a serious economic, environmental and food security problem. The bill will help rescue wholesome surplus food at supermarkets and other large businesses for people in need. It will also help reduce the massive amounts of unnecessary climate pollution, wasted water, and lost money caused by good food going to waste.”


Forty percent of the food produced in this country is wasted—and here in New York, food makes up 18 percent of our municipal solid waste stream. At the same time, nearly 2.5 million New Yorkers struggle to have enough to eat.

Food waste has massive environmental impacts:

  • 21 percent of water used by the U.S. agricultural industry goes to grow food that’s never eaten.
  • 21 percent of the material that goes into landfills is food, which breaks down and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
  • If global food waste were a country, it would have the third-highest climate footprint, behind only the U.S. and China.

It also has massive economic impacts: $218 billion worth of food is trashed in the U.S. annually.

New York's large food scraps generators-supermarkets, restaurants, colleges, and hospitals generate more than 250,000 tons of wasted food and food scraps each year, some of which is edible food. If just 5 percent of this material were donated, food banks would see an increase of 20 percent in the amount of food available for consumption by those in need.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.