Projects aim to reduce sources of food waste and waste from single-use to-go containers
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $40,000 in funding to Center for EcoTechnology (CET) and Park City Municipal Corporation (PCMC) through the Sustainable Materials Management program. EPA has awarded $19,526 to CET, a nongovernmental organization based in Massachusetts that helps cities and states across the country connect with wasted food solutions, to improve food waste reduction and recovery in Denver and $20,000 to PCMC to pilot a reusable to-go container system in Park City, Utah.
“These projects show great promise for reducing unnecessary food waste and waste from single-use to-go containers through innovative and practical ideas,” said EPA Region 8 Acting Regional Administrator Debra H. Thomas. “When we prioritize efforts that prevent waste, we conserve resources and reduce pollution for the benefit of the wider community.”
“CET is poised to leverage its experience and marketplace knowledge to help Denver businesses increase implementation of wasted food solutions,” said John Majercak, president of CET. “Support from the EPA enables us to catalyze Colorado’s growing capacity and infrastructure for preventing food waste and recovering it for our food insecure.”
“Park City has an ambitious goal of becoming a zero-waste community by 2030. A key element in reaching that goal is source reduction, and the implementation of a robust reusable to-go food container program is a tangible action for locals and visitors alike,” said PCMC Environmental Sustainability Project Manager Celia Peterson. “Not only will this reduce food waste and our environmental impact, but in leading by example, Park City will be able to show visitors from across the world that zero waste is an achievable goal.”
CET initiated the Wasted Food Solutions for Denver project at the request of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to identify barriers and provide solutions to increase food donations in Denver. Over the course of a year, CET will interview stakeholders, host focus groups, create evaluation forms and provide feedback on ongoing and future food rescue and recovery efforts taking place in the city. The project will result in a report aimed at empowering local businesses to employ approaches to sustainably manage materials, especially through the reduction and recovery of surplus food.
Using EPA funding, PCMC will assess the feasibility of a community-wide reusable to-go container program. The project will include a one-month rapid pilot test of a reusable to-go container service with local partners with the goal of establishing a community-wide, functional system of reusable to-go containers. By avoiding the generation of more single-use packaging, the project will reduce environmental impacts on land and water use, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The project will also improve recycling markets by removing contaminated to-go boxes from the local recycling stream.
Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is a systemic approach to using materials more productively and finding new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs over a product's life cycle. EPA’s SMM program supports efforts to help build community health by reducing the use, release and exposure to toxic chemicals; using life-cycle approaches to reduce the health and environmental impacts of materials use; and employing upstream solutions that reduce the need for and cost of environmental cleanup and pollution management.
Source reduction is an approach aimed at sustainably managing materials by reducing the amount or toxicity of garbage generated through the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials (such as products and packaging). Source reduction can help reduce waste disposal and handling charges because the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling and combustion are avoided. Source reduction conserves resources and reduces pollution.
For more information on the Sustainable Materials Management program, visit https://www.epa.gov/smm.