Food Waste Policy Update

By Food Waste Reduction Committee Members, Susan Miller Davis, Infinite Table and Susan Blachman, Blachman Consulting

SB1383, signed by Governor Brown in 2016, requires reductions in short-lived climate pollutants, similar to the way AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, does for greenhouse gases.  SB1383 specifically targets organic waste methane emissions.

CalRecycle is developing the regulatory language to support the following targets under SB1383:  a 50 percent reduction in the level of statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020; a 75 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2025; and the recovery of 20 percent or more of edible food that is currently being disposed for human consumption by 2025.

Since the bill’s passage, CalRecycle has been holding workshops on the regulatory language. The most recent workshops were held on May 7 & 8, 2018. The following is the Table of Contents of the May 2018 proposed regulations. For more information and documents., visit the  CalRecycle Public Meeting Notice.

Article 1. Definitions
Article 2. Landfill Disposal and Reductions in Landfill Disposal
Article 3. Organic Waste Collection Services
Article 4. Education and Outreach
Article 5. Generators of Organic Waste
Article 6. Biosolids Generated at a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW)
Article 7. Regulation of Haulers
Article 8. Cal-Green Building Standards
Article 9. Locally Adopted Standards and Policies
Article 10. Jurisdiction Edible Food Recovery Programs, Food Generators, and Food Recovery 
Article 11. Capacity Planning
Article 12. Procurement of Recovered Organic Waste Products
Article 13. Reporting
Article 14. Enforcement
Article 15. Enforcement Oversight by the Department
Article 16. Penalties

SB1383 will require local governments to impose new levels of collection service for generators, develop new sources of organics recycling and edible food recovery capacity, and comply with new levels of state and local oversight. CalRecycle has received considerable feedback on the most recent draft, so we expect it to continue to be revised.

In 2019 CalRecycle will be networking, providing technical assistance, and developing tools, model ordinances, contracts, and case studies to support efforts at the local level to meet the organic waste reduction targets and comply with the regulatory requirements.

In the meantime, NCRA will be holding the Zero Food Waste Forum on October 16, 2018 in Berkeley focused on innovative ways local governments are implementing and can comply with Article 10, the edible food element.

A related bill, AB 1219, the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, adopted in 2017, should help with food recovery. It strengthens and expands liability protections for food donors. Among its provisions, the law requires health inspectors to educate businesses about the laws that exist to protect food donors from liability, which is the first time a state has done this. To assist health inspectors, staff at a number of non-profits (the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, the California Conference of the Directors of Environmental Health, and the Center for Climate Change and Health, with support from The California Endowment) produced the Safe Surplus Food Donation Toolkit, to educate food facilities about safe surplus food donation, including information on liability protections, state mandates, and safe surplus food donation practices. The Toolkit includes websites where food generators can find recipients of donated food.

If you know of any feeding organizations that are not included, please encourage them to get listed. They are: Sustainable America  Feeding America and Ample Harvest

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Zero Food Waste Forum: Call For Papers – Due 6/15

The Northern California Recycling Association and Solid Waste Association of North American are hosting the 2018 Zero Food Waste Forum on World Food Day. Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 in Berkeley, CA. The Call For Papers is now open and ends June 15.

The Forum will help local jurisdictions comply with Senate Bill 1383, which requires California to reduce edible food going to landfills by 20% by 2025. The Forum will profile successful policies and programs in food waste prevention and reduction and edible food repurposing and recovery, highlight regional and statewide examples and provide a forum for “disruptive” approaches to reduce wasted food and feed hungry people. Interested in getting involved? If you are interested in serving on the committee or being a sponsor, contact the Committee.

 

Fodder For Thought: Recovering Food and Feeding Animals

By Food Waste Reduction Committee Members, Susan Miller Davis, Infinite Table and Susan Blachman, Blachman Consulting
According to the US EPA food recovery hierarchy, after prevention and feeding humans comes feeding animals. Below are some places in Northern California that accept food for animals.

 The Oakland Zoo, home to more than 700 animals and dedicated to conservation, is a unique local resource for food recovery in Alameda County.  The Zoo has the potential to use a large quantity and variety of foods, including meat, bones, excess bread and bakery goods, and imperfect produce, which may not be suitable for human consumption.

According to a 2012 article, the zoo spends over $300,000 annually on feed.  A single tiger eats 10 bones and 15 pounds of meat daily, and an 11,000-pound bull elephant eats 100 pounds of “browse” or vegetation each day.  The park is about to expand significantly, opening the new “California Trail” exhibit which will feature several large species like bison and bears and scavengers like condors, which could open up new donation possibilities.  The Zoo currently works with a number of donors according to specific donation guidelines, and hosts an annual  Feast for the Beasts event, this year on July 28, inviting the public to feed the elephants breakfast using donated produce.

Tiny Farms is an agricultural technology company headquartered in San Leandro. The company is building high-efficiency modular cricket farms, and producing cricket powder for human and animal food. They are currently hatching about 1 million crickets per month in their San Leandro facility and are experimenting with substituting recovered food such as stale bread and sturdy vegetables (e.g. root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. that may be softening or sprouting but are not yet rotting), for some of their animal feed as a way to reduce their business’ environmental impact.

They believe there is the potential to replace as much as half of their cricket feed with recovered food. And they’ve just recently begun supplying Oaktown Crickets with seasoned fried crickets in snack packs and as a salad topper at the Oakland Coliseum.

O2 Artisans Aggregate, O2AA, an eco-industrial park located in West Oakland, is home to a network of artisans and enterprises working collectively to develop and promote environmentally progressive projects. The systems created at O2 enable tenants and the community to utilize alternative energy and reduce and up-cycle various waste-streams.

The Perennial Farming Initiative has an aquaponic greenhouse facility which uses organic material, other than wood chips, compostable utensils and putrid material.  In the closed-loop system, that organic material is fed to fish, the fish waste is then used to fertilize plants on hydroponic rafts and the plants are harvested for consumption.  Other organic material, not easily composted (onions, citrus, bones), is fed to worms that in turn feed the fish.  O2 Feeds is a new on-site initiative upcycling food waste, including wet and dry grains, okara (a waste by-product from a local tofu manufacturer) and tortilla chips, to create a sustainable animal feed.

Livestock farming is concentrated in the eastern part of Alameda County – for more information see the Alameda Farm Bureau.  There are several large operations in nearby counties that accept excess food.

M-R Ranch is a 200-cow operation near Sacramento that takes material from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, including stale bread, spent grain, chocolate, oatmeal and old produce such as onions, potatoes, and cilantro.

Devil’s Gulch Ranch, a diversified family farm located in Nicasio, Marin County, within California’s North Coast region, raising rabbits, pigs, sheep, premium wine grapes and asparagus for retail customers and direct sales to restaurants. They accept donations of brewer’s grains, milk, bread and tortillas for their pigs.

To find other farms in and around Alameda County that will accept food waste:

  • Post material on CropMobster, an online community-based exchange system for trade and exchange within the food and agricultural space. CropMobster SF Bay is focused on providing a locally based community for hunger relievers, tackling food waste and building a “farm-to-fork” economy in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Talk to animal farmers at Alameda County farmers markets

Please let us know if you are aware of other animal operations that accept recovered food.

New Horizons In Food Rescue Around California

By Food Waste Reduction Committee Members, Susan Miller Davis, Infinite Table and Susan Blachman, Blachman Consulting
In 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 which, among other things, requires 20 percent of edible food that is currently disposed in landfills and incinerators to be recovered for human consumption by 2025. CalRecycle is holding workshops on May 7 and 8 to share draft regulatory language with which local jurisdictions will have to comply, to discuss the implementation process and solicit feedback. Although the regulations will not take effect until 2022, they will be adopted in 2019 to allow regulated entities approximately three years to plan and implement necessary budgetary, contractual, and other programmatic changes.

Local jurisdictions are beginning to mobilize resources – here are a few examples of local efforts underway:

Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles has incorporated food recovery into its new franchise agreement. Under the agreement, the haulers are required to partner with local non-profit organizations to set up Food Rescue and Materials Reuse Programs. In exchange for recovery services and estimates of tonnage recovered, each hauler is obligated to donate to their subcontracted reuse organizations at least $1,000 per 100 customers in their service zones.  The exact amount given to each organization and the tonnages recovered or services provided in exchange is negotiated between each hauler and nonprofit individually. The program began January 2018.

Alameda County: ALL IN Alameda County is an innovation incubator within county government, a multi-stakeholder collaborative, working together to end poverty. One goal of All In is to establish a professionalized, paid food recovery sector, including job training. Towards that end, All In will be rolling out a 3 month food rescue pilot using two refrigerated vehicles purchased by the county.  Drivers will be recruited and hired from Peralta Service Corporation (PSC), the Unity Council’s social enterprise, and trained by the County Environmental Health Department on safe food handling. The program will recover food (fresh produce) from local farmers’ markets and deliver it to two recipient organizations: the Unity Council and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates. The plan is to continue the program once the three months is up, and including evaluating how the project can be sustained.

Silicon Valley: Silicon Valley Food Rescue (SVFR), a joint venture initiative of Santa Clara County and Joint Venture Silicon Valley, is working to supplement existing food recovery and hunger relief efforts with its planned “A La Carte” pilot, which will recover prepared food from currently untapped sources and also deliver food to insecure residents in new, more convenient ways.   According to SVFR, A La Carte, which will pilot in the summer of 2018, is “a trendy looking food truck that will rescue surplus pre-packaged food from corporate and university campuses and deliver the food directly into neighborhoods where people in need have limited access to food.”  SVFR hopes to expand the pilot to cover the entire county.  The trucks do not contain cooking and washing facilities, so are designed to distribute pre-packaged food only.  According to SVFR, “the program is designed to offer a normal, dignified experience to those struggling to feed themselves and their families, always free of cost.”

City of San Diego: In order to help achieve the City of San Diego’s goal of achieving “Zero Waste” by 2040, the City has established a Food Waste Diversion Program which has diverted approximately 8,000 tons of food waste from the City’s landfill to date. Under this program, the 34 largest food providers donate food to local food banks; donors include the San Diego Convention Center, Airport, Zoo and Safari Park, and SeaWorld, along with several schools and universities. Many other sites also donate their surplus food. Donations represent approximately 8,000 meals per week. City staff’s experience indicated that the best way to overcome barriers to source reduction and food donation is to show businesses how much and what types of food they were sending to organics diversion via composting.

And…Food for Free provides out-of-state inspiration
Food for Free is a food rescue and redistribution non-profit operating in the Boston area since 1981.  Recently, in response to growing demand from local businesses seeking to donate prepared foods to comply with the 2014 statewide commercial food material disposal ban (similar to SB 1383), Food for Free introduced a prepared meals program.

The Food for Free kitchen processes about 900 lbs of donated, bulk frozen food per week, mostly from local university campus kitchens.  The team has developed a process for breaking down the frozen food into individual meals, similar to tv dinners, which are packaged, sealed and labeled, and then distributed to a number of recipient hunger relief agencies.  The meals have the advantage of being convenient for families and other food insecure residents – those living in SROs, hotels or couch surfing; the elderly; students – who have limited kitchen access or other barriers to cooking, as they can be easily heated in a microwave.

Program manager Fiona Crimmins describes the challenges of working with frozen product – the team has developed methods of breaking down the food that involves chisels, and can only work with food that separates in a manageable and appetizing way – but also the benefits in terms of extending the timeline for distributing the food.  Similar programs on the Tufts and Harvard campuses, fueled by student volunteers, are processing surplus campus cafeteria food into individual, refrigerated meals for easy distribution.

Zero Food Waste Forum – Coming Fall 2018
To learn more about model food recovery programs and prepare for compliance with Senate Bill 1383, consider attending the NCRA 2018 Zero Food Waste Forum this fall in the Bay Area.

If you are interested in serving on the steering committee or becoming a sponsor, contact Ruth Abbe at Ruth.Abbe@gmail.com.

Alameda County Food Bank – Big Slices of the Food Recovery Pie

By NCRA Food Waste Reduction Committee
For our report, Commercial Food Waste Reduction in Alameda County, we documented the amount of surplus food that was rescued and distributed in Alameda County. We estimated that about 5.7 million pounds of surplus food that was generated within the county was redistributed to feed hungry people in Alameda County in 2016.

A major player is the Alameda County Community Food Bank. As we documented in our report, the Food Bank runs the grocery rescue or Food Recovery Program which matches grocery stores to agencies (like food pantries) that distribute the surplus food (like individually wrapped salads, sandwiches, produce and food staples). Over 3.6 million pounds of food from over 100 donors was redistributed through the grocery rescue program in 2016. This grew to over 4 million pounds in 2017.

Since we published our report in July 2017, we learned about other sources of surplus food obtained by the Food Bank.

The Food Bank receives donations from large manufacturers and retail distributors, some of which might otherwise have been disposed. The Local Donation Program from Distributors and Manufacturers accounts for over 25% of the food that they distribute. This compares to about 12% from the grocery rescue program.The Local Donation Program has grown by 2.2 million pounds over the last two years, with last fiscal year totaling 6.2 million pounds.  About 40% of this product is produce, and overall, it consists of a fair mix of dry goods, fresh bread/tortillas, fresh dairy, fresh juice, frozen product (meat, meals, etc.). The Food Bank works with about 20 donation partners throughout the county weekly, and averages about 630,000 pounds of surplus food redistributed per month.

About 45% of the food that the Food Bank distributes comes from the California Association of Food Banks Farm to Family Program which distributed 164 million pounds of surplus produce to 43 food banks statewide and partnered with more than 135 farmers to access 44 different crops (which might otherwise have been wasted or ploughed under). This surplus food is generated outside of Alameda County, but feeds hungry people in county and throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1383 requires local jurisdictions to up the ante on food rescue and ensure that 20% of currently disposed edible food is recovered for human consumption in 2025. As the state identifies priorities for food rescue, it will need to consider the role of the large, traditional sources of surplus food (farms, manufacturers, and distributors) compared to the smaller, more difficult-to-address sources of surplus food (such as restaurants, schools, corporate cafeterias, and caterers).

Thank you Caroline Chow, Food Resource Development Coordinator, Alameda County Community Food Bank for contributing to this piece.