Tackling Food Waste, Nashvillian-Style

February 16, 2017

In 2015, NRDC launched the Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI) to develop high-impact policies, strategies, and practical tools to serve as models for cities around the country. As a midsize, demographically diverse metropolis in the center of the country, Nashville can serve as a model for other cities.

The NFWI engages governments, consumers, restaurants, community institutions, and retailers to reduce and prevent food waste, redirect surplus food to hungry people, and compost and anaerobically digest what’s left to help build healthy soil. We are connecting people from across the Nashville community to leverage current initiatives while identifying and implementing new approaches. We will share our success stories to inform similar initiatives across the country.

Prevention Projects

  • We are partnering with the Ad Council on the Save the Food campaign, the first-ever national consumer campaign to reduce food waste. As part of the national campaign, we are working with Nashville's metro government and community stakeholders to roll out creative assets, such as billboards and social media campaigns, within the city.
  • We are working with select food-service providers to help quantify the amount of food they waste, using innovative LeanPath software to help prevent waste and reduce costs.
  • We are conducting a baseline food-waste assessment to estimate the amounts and types of food wasted in Nashville’s residential and commercial sectors. We have gathered household information through tools like kitchen diaries and consumer surveys that will foster a better understanding of how much and what types of food are wasted, as well as some of the underlying causes of food waste.
  • We are cohosting food-waste expert panels as well as public screenings of the groundbreaking documentary Just Eat It! A Food Waste Story at venues like the Adventure Science Center.

Donation Projects

  • We are assessing the portion of food currently wasted by Nashville food-service businesses that could instead be donated, setting the stage for dialogue and policy action to address hunger and cut waste.
  • We are partnering with Zero Percent to drive more restaurants to its user-friendly application that directs prepared food donations to local social service organizations.
  • We are working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and the Nashville Food Project to assess the potential to expand donations of local farm-fresh produce.

Recycling Projects

  • We are advising Resource Capture, LLC, a local nonprofit, on the siting and development of an anaerobic digester to supplement the local composting infrastructure. The digester will recycle food scraps, creating both energy and digestate that can be used to produce valuable soil amendments.

More Information

Nashville’s citizens, businesses, and government can help reduce food waste. For more information, please contact Darby Hoover, dhoover@nrdc.org, or Linda Breggin, Project Coordinator, Nashville Food Waste Initiative, breggin@eli.org.