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Cupertino honored as national food waste reduction innovation leader

Release Date: 12/17/2013
Contact Information: David Yogi, yogi.david@epa.gov, Ph: (415) 972-3350

U.S. EPA honors city for forward-thinking business partnerships, reducing food impacting waterways

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today awarded the City of Cupertino (Calif.) its Food Recovery Challenge’s national Innovation Award for the city’s extensive efforts to reduce food waste. Cupertino’s efforts include leading-edge work to integrate food waste reduction goals into its business partnership with a local waste hauler and to aid local businesses compost their food waste. The city was honored at an event held at Marina Food, a Cupertino, Calif. Asian-foods specialty store that partnered with the city to reduce its food waste.

“Since the city established its 75 percent diversion goal, more than 2,000 tons of food waste generated by businesses and residents in Cupertino each year is no longer sent to landfills,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. “Reducing food waste is a simple way we can cut our carbon footprint, move closer to zero waste and stop harmful climate-changing gases from polluting our air.”

Nationally, food is the single most common material sent to landfills, accounting for 25 percent of all waste sent to landfills. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Limiting wasted food significantly reduces methane emissions.

Cupertino set a goal to increase overall recycling and composting in the community to 75 percent by 2015, a 10 percent increase from 2010 levels. Its waste hauler, Recology, must meet this goal in order to renew its contract with the city set for that year. Diverting food waste from landfills is the primary method the city is using to meet the 75 percent goal. The city, Recology and EPA worked closely to develop and implement outreach strategies to encourage local businesses to reduce their food waste.

“The city is proud to receive this honor from the EPA,” said Mayor Gilbert Wong. “It has been a rewarding joint effort, locally with Recology, Marina Foods, and other Cupertino supermarkets through a two-year process led by hard working city staff. Moreover, I commend the management and staff at Marina Food for embracing the city’s composting and recycling goals to improve the sustainability of the Cupertino community”

As part of their efforts, the city, EPA, and Recology conducted a workshop for local grocery stories and arranged site visits to demonstrate how businesses could incorporate food waste reduction strategies into their operations. As a result, Marina Food now prevents an estimated 520 tons of food waste annually from entering landfills. The city is also working with local businesses to ensure that food waste and associated packaging does not enter storm water systems, which can contaminate water flowing into rivers, streams, and the ocean.

The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely-used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed.

For more information about the City of Cupertino’s efforts, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/mediacenter/cupertino-food-recovery/index.html

For more information about EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, visit: http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/


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