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Seven New England Colleges and Universities Honored for Food Waste Recycling Efforts

Release Date: 04/01/2013
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 1, 2013) – Seven College and Universities were recently honored by EPA with Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Awards.

EPA recognized the following educational institutions for significantly cutting food waste below previous years’ levels:
- Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
- Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
- Suffolk University in Boston, Mass.
- Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.
- Keene State College in Keene, N.H.
- University of NH, Durham Campus in Durham, N.H.

"These New England colleges and universities are setting a great example by preventing more than 2528 tons of food scraps from disposal by using them for higher and better uses, including food donation and composting," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award winners are using food to feed people, not disposal facilities."

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge invites organizations nationwide to save money through reducing, purchasing and lowering disposal fees for unconsumed food; supporting their community by diverting wholesome surplus food to feed people, not landfills or incinerators; and reducing their environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable food management. This program complements food waste recovery efforts by partnering with New England state environmental agencies.

After paper, discarded food comprises the greatest volume of waste being generated in the United States. In fact, “waste food” is really a misnomer. In many cases, surplus food comes off of shelves while it is still good, nutritious and safe, and is sent to landfills. This food could potentially feed millions of Americans, according to both the U.S. Dept, of Agriculture and EPA. In 2010, more than 14 percent of households in the U.S. did not have regular access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Food and food scraps that are not fit for consumption and donation can be used to feed the soil by composting or added to anaerobic digestion facilities, which produce biogas that can be used for energy. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated with only 3 percent being diverted to composting. When excess food, leftover food and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Instead, anaerobic digestion facilities capture the gas and use it for electricity or for combined heat and power.

The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials throughout its entire lifecycle.

The awards were presented at both the March 28th “Vermont Organics Recycling Summit” and the April 1st “MassRecycle R3 Conference,” where over 550 recycling experts, enthusiasts and private/public sector decision makers attended the annual conference and tradeshows, sharing information and learning about recycling, including information focused on Increasing food waste recovery.

More information on EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: (http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/index.htm)

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