According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, roughly 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. ends up tossed in the garbage. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) estimates that 22% of all solid waste in New Jersey consists of food waste.
At the same time about 42 million Americans live in food-insecure households, meaning they are struggling with hunger, without enough food to eat. Feeding America has mapped food insecure households — over 10% of our population in Hudson County were food insecure in 2018.
According to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Resources Institute, global food waste represents more greenhouse gas emissions than any country in the world except for China and the United States, accounting for 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually.
As organic material like food waste decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases, including not only carbon dioxide (CO2) but methane, (CH4) which is a gas 25 times more potent than CO2. You can use a Food Waste Greenhouse Gas Calculator to get an idea of how your wasted food specifically contributes to your carbon footprint.
Food waste has implications beyond just greenhouse gases; a 2017 NRDC report, Wasted, outlines not only the greenhouse gas emissions of this waste, but also its impact on water, cropland, landfills, and gross domestic product.
In March 2020 New Jersey passed Bill A-2371, requiring large food waste generators that produce an average of 52 or more tons of food waste per year to recycle food waste at an appropriate facility. If commercial and institutional entities are located within 25 miles of an authorized food waste recycling facility, they must comply with the food waste recycling mandate.
If you are looking to reduce your food waste you may want to check out the new Food Waste Website created by the NJDEP. It has resources targeted to residents, schools, restaurants, businesses and more. For additional resources, including those specific to Jersey City, please also see the links and resources below.
Plan and Track Your Food Purchases
Save the Food is a national public service campaign to combat food waste. Go to SaveTheFood.com to find tips and ideas on how to reduce food waste through smart meal planning and proper storage. You can even find great recipes for cooking with food scraps and cooking food considered past its prime.
For more information on food storage and food safety, you can also check out the USDA Foodkeeper.
Donate Your Extra Food
Consider donating extra food to local food pantries and kitchens that serve our residents. Those who donate “apparently wholesome” food to nonprofit organizations are protected from both civil and criminal liability through the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
Consider donating your extra food to or volunteering your time with the following organizations:
The New Jersey Grow a Row Program also collects extra vegetables from gardeners in the area to bring to St. Peter’s program.
Recycle Your Food Waste: Compost
When you are preparing food, you can separate the food scraps and recycle them to create a natural and free source of fertilizer for your garden, yard, or houseplants. Vermicomposting and Bokashi also offer ways for you to recycle your food scraps. See our Composting Page for more information.