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Feeding Animals

Feeding Animals
Left Column: 

What do I need to know?

  • Feeding animals is the most preferable diversion method after donating to feed people, but not all food waste is suitable for doing so.

  • There are several benefits associated with using food waste as animal feed. Essentially, because very little processing is necessary compared to other diversion techniques, feeding animals provides a relatively direct beneficial outlet for food without adding the environmental impacts of extensive processing.

  • Minimal processing is also related to why sending food to feed animals is usually less costly than other diversion methods.

  • Federal and State Laws must be followed to legally feed food scraps to animals. See this Legal Fact Sheet from the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic for more information.

Right Column: 

What type of food is appropriate?

  • Not all food waste can be sent to feed animals. Depending on the type, moisture content, and amount, feeding animals may or may not be the best outlet for you.

  • Pre-consumer food that is higher in moisture content (e.g. vegetable and fruit waste) is usually better suited for feeding directly to animals. These types of food wastes typically will come from a food processing facility, distribution point, or grocery store.

  • Example (high moisture): fruit and vegetable losses/scrap, cannery waste, dairy products, etc.

  • Food waste that is pre-consumer, low in moisture content and relatively homogeneous in nutrition content, is usually a good fit for an animal feed processing facility. However, there is currently only one animal feed processing facility like this operating in NYS.
    Example (low moisture): bakery waste, potato chips, pasta, etc.

  • If your business is primarily a food service operation, it is unlikely you will have the type of food waste stream that is ideal for feeding to animals. You may be dealing more with:
    Example: Plate waste, pre-consumer scrap, produce, meat scraps, soups, etc.

  • Because of the existing state laws governing what can be fed to animals, no post-consumer waste is able to be used for animal feed. For these reasons, other types of diversion methods are recommended.

Practical Aspects

  • Regulations governing the feeding of food waste to animals varies by state. In New York State, the feeding of garbage to animals is prohibited by the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets under Article 5 Section 72-a.

  • On a State level, there are two major governmental groups involved in overseeing the feeding of food waste to animals: the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM).

    • NYSDEC is responsible for determining whether or not a food waste stream is designated as garbage or not, while the NYSDAM is responsible for regulating the actual feeding of animals.

  • In regulatory sense, food waste is treated as solid waste until approval is granted otherwise. Generators that plan to send food to feed animals must obtain a beneficial use determination (BUD) from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. If a BUD is granted, the material under designation ceases to be treated as solid waste. Certain materials fall under pre-determined BUD, some of which are able to be self-implemented. Other food waste requires obtaining a case-specific BUD. Read more about BUDs here.

How do I get started?


  • Sending food waste to farms and animal feed processing facilities is often less expensive than sending it to a landfill

  • Farmers can save money compared to purchasing traditional feed

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by fertilizer used in the growing of crops for traditional animal feed production

    Other Information & Resources

    Baskin Livestock is the only commercial animal feed operation in NYS using food waste for feedstock.