EPA Honors UNH for Reducing Food Waste

EPA Honors UNH for Reducing Food Waste

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency honored UNH with its Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award last week, recognizing the university for cutting food waste significantly below the previous years’ levels. UNH was among seven New England colleges and universities to receive the award

“These New England colleges and universities are setting a great example by preventing more than 2528 tons of food scraps from disposal by using them for higher and better uses, including food donation and composting,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award winners are using food to feed people, not disposal facilities.”

“The dining team has done a great job with this program. It is exciting to be recognized. Collaboration between university departments that benefits the environment makes this very special,” said David May, UNH assistant vice president of business affairs.

Since launching a composting program – a collaboration between UNH Dining, COLSA, and the UNH Sustainability Institute -- in 1998, UNH has diverted more than half a million pounds of food waste from the waste stream and converted it to nutrient-rich compost, some of which goes to campus research farms. All UNH dining halls have installed food pulpers to pulverize food waste into small bits and extract liquid, a process that helps to facilitate the composting process. And in addition to education campaigns encouraging students to minimize food waste, UNH Dining has implemented “trayless” dining in two of its dining halls, The Stillings Dining Hall and Philbrook Dining Hall.      

The EPA says that after paper, discarded food comprises the greatest volume of waste generated in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA estimate that surplus food that is still safe for consumption could potentially feed millions of Americans. Food and food scraps not fit for consumption can be used for composting; in 2010, just three percent of the 34 million tons of food waste generated was diverted to composting.

In addition to UNH, other institutions honored by the EPA were Keene State College, Harvard University, Clark University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Suffolk University, all in Massachusetts; and Middlebury College in Vermont. Read more at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/43E69AA935758F7885257B400064FA10