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Regulations, Laws and Related Activities

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Regulations and Laws

Food Donation

Federal Law

  • Good Samaritan Act
    • Encourages donation by protecting good faith donors from liability if the product later causes harm to the recipient, except in the case of gross negligence
    • Gross Negligence – voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person

State Law             

Other Pathways (i.e. Anaerobic Digestion and Composting)

  • Facilities such as anaerobic digesters and composters are permitted under New York State’s Solid Waste Management Facilities Regulations (6 NYCRR Part 360). If you are interested in sending your organic waste to one of these types of sites, contact your hauler or the processing facility itself to learn more about restrictions they may have.


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Animal Feeding

Federal Law

State Law

  • Article 5 Section 72: Feeding Garbage in New York State
    • Feeding garbage to cattle, swine or poultry is prohibited
    • Garbage is defined as putrescible animal and poultry wastes from the handling, processing, preparation, cooking, and consumption of foods
    • Discarded foods not considered garbage, and as such can be fed to swine – dairy and cheese waste, outdated food removed from supermarkets (except meat), outdated eggs, stale baked goods, discarded vegetables and fruit

Solid Organic Waste Landfill Bans

  • NYC Commercial Organics Law: As of July 19, 2016, New York City's larger generators of different types (food retail/service, food manufacturers, wholesalers, etc.) of designated sizes, are subject to the Commercial Organics Law. Under the law, the covered facilities must either set up collection for or manage processing their organics on-site.
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Public Initiatives and Activities

Federal Activities

  • National Target on Food Waste Reduction: In the fall of 2015, the EPA and USDA came together to announce a nationwide goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.
  • EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: is a voluntary program, which targets institutions. The FRC’s purpose is to encourage and promote the recovery of food scraps. Participants are generally required to set recovery targets and work to achieve those targets. In return, EPA will publically recognize participants, provide support and communication assistance, and provide access to online reporting and data management.
  • USDA/EPA’s Food Waste Challenge: is a voluntary program that is open to any food waste generator outside of households, including processors, retailers, and state agencies. The intention of this program is to collect and disseminate activities and best practices of the challenge participants amongst the group for reducing, recovering, and recycling food waste.

New York State Activities      

  • Govenor Cuomo announced in his 2016 State of the State Address that he will work with the legislature in 2016 to pass a bill requiring large generators of food waste to divert food waste from landfills.
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Community Activities

  • Local engagement is an important part of food waste reduction and recovery. Initiatives vary by region and town. Contacting your county’s solid waste department is a good place to start if you want to know more about local activities.
  • A few inspiring examples:
    • Tompkins County Food Waste Prevention Grant: Tompkins County received a grant through the NYSP2I Community Grants program to generate and distribute material to prevent waste within the County. The County intends to reduce food waste generation as a part of the county wide goal to be at 75% waste diversion by the end of 2016. Check out a case study of the project here, and the full manual created through the project here.
    • Onondaga County Food Waste Composting: The non-profit organization Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency was formed at the request of the county legislature to manage the county’s solid waste. The organization now operates two compost sites that process organic waste for generators within and outside the county.