The General Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano, Tim Eustace, James Kennedy, Dan Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Andrew Zwicker and Raj Mukherji to establish a statewide food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030.
“Food waste is a major issue nationally and globally,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Unwanted and discarded food squanders water, land, energy, labor and capital resources. When food waste is dumped in a landfill, it rots and creates methane, a very hazardous greenhouse gas. We should begin to look at alternatives to ridding surplus food, especially if it is still unspoiled, instead of just tossing it in a landfill.”
“One third of the food produced in the world for human consumption -about 1.3 billion tons – is lost or wasted every year,” said Quijano (D-Union). “We must take steps to reduce New Jersey’s contribution to food waste and plan for the future.”
“If a quarter of the food lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people globally,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee and sponsor of a bill (A-1760) that would offer farmers an incentive to donate leftover food to local food banks. “By taking the right steps and encouraging donations of surplus food by farmers we can stock our food banks with fresh fruits and vegetables for residents and reduce unnecessary waste.”
“Food loss and waste is the single largest component of disposed municipal solid waste in the U.S.,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “We must come up with a plan to decrease food waste in New Jersey that will support families and foster a healthier environment.”
“The EPA and the Secretary of Agriculture announced a national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “With this bill, New Jersey would adopt the same goal and support national efforts to reduce waste. We can make sure fewer people go hungry and decrease the potential of unnecessary waste in New Jersey by participating in this effort.”
“Hunger is a sad reality for far too many New Jerseyans, which makes it doubly outrageous that such a large percentage of our food supply ends up in landfills and trash heaps,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Setting this new sustainable goal will put our state on the road to ending this unconscionable waste of critical food resources.”
“A recent report by Feeding America revealed that close to 12 percent of the state’s population does not have access to enough food to lead healthy lives,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/ Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Yet billions of tons of food are discarded a year in this country. We can as a state make smarter decisions by planning for the distribution of unused, surplus food, helping more families put food on their table and reducing food waste.”
“Ending food waste in New Jersey starts with setting a goal and making a conscious effort to achieve it,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “In addition to putting an emphasis on getting food to hungry people, this measure aims to benefit the environment by ensuring that less food waste – the largest component of municipal waste in the country – ends up in landfills.”
The bill (A-4631) would establish a state goal of reducing, by the year 2030, the amount of food waste generated annually in the state by 50 percent.
The bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and within one year, to develop and commence implementation of a plan to accomplish the 50 percent state food waste reduction goal.
The DEP would be required to hold at least three public hearings during the development of the plan to seek public input. The departments also would be authorized to consult and coordinate with other governmental entities and private, nonprofit or charitable associations, organizations or businesses – such as those in the agricultural, grocery, restaurant, food manufacturer, food supply, food bank, food pantry, and healthcare sectors of the food industry – in developing and implementing the plan.
The bill, which received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, now heads to the governor.