On April 9, Adam Ortiz, Director of Environmental Protection for Montgomery County, Md., represented NACo at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Winning on Reducing Food Waste event. The meeting included representatives from all levels of government as well as private industry to discuss food waste challenges and opportunities facing communities. The event included remarks from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas.
During the event, the agencies released a federal interagency strategy to address food waste. This strategy includes six key priority areas the agencies will address over the next year: (1) enhance interagency coordination, (2) increase consumer education and outreach efforts, (3) improve coordination and guidance on food loss and waste measurement, (4) clarify and communicate information on food safety, food date labels and food donations, (5) collaborate with private industry to reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain and (6) encourage food waste reduction by federal agencies in their respective facilities.
Administrator Wheeler stated the goal of the initiative is to reduce food waste and redirect excess food away from landfills and use it to feed communities and fuel our economy. According to the EPA, food waste accounts for the largest share of municipal solid waste and approximately 31 percent (133 billion pounds) of the nation’s food is wasted annually, much of it ending up in county-owned landfills. This poses a significant challenge for counties, as we play an integral role in waste management, especially in facilitating waste reduction and recycling programs. As major stakeholders, counties are encouraged by the EPA’s commitment to identify solutions to reduce food waste nationwide.
State and local government event participants signed a pledge committing to work to together to reduce food waste in the United States. Mr. Ortiz signed the following pledge on behalf of NACo:
“In recognition of April 2019 as Winning of Reducing Food Waste Month, we, the undersigned representatives of government, pledge to work together with our federal partners to build new or upon existing efforts to address food loss and waste in the U.S. Our signatures indicate the interest and willingness of our governmental organizations to consider more formalized partnerships with the federal government and/or ongoing dialogue over the next year to identify specific actions we can take collectively and within our respective organizations to reduce food waste nationally. We offer this partnership without expectation of payment and expressly waive any future claim for compensation.”