EPA recognizes Solid Waste Management District for promoting sustainable food management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has recognized the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Solid Waste Management District for its notable achievements and innovations in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2021.

The MARC Solid Waste Management District’s outreach efforts addressing food waste include maintaining a food waste prevention webpage, as well as presentations to other organizations promoting EPA’s sustainable management of food principles.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many meetings and events transitioned to a virtual platform or were canceled outright. The district’s primary focus for food waste outreach shifted to a social media campaign that reached over 16,000 individuals in the Kansas City metro area. The campaign featured a series of social media posts that focused on simple tips for homeowners to sustainably plan, store and use their food.

“Everyone in our region has a role to play in reducing food waste,” said Solid Waste Management District Program Manager Lisa McDaniel. “Our focus is helping families get started by providing simple, actionable tips to reduce food loss and food waste in their households.”

The district also provided grant funding to Kanbe’s Market, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate food deserts in Kansas City. The grant helped Kanbe’s expand its local food waste alliance, resulting in over 35 tons of food being diverted from landfill disposal. The alliance receives food from various sources, sells products in Healthy Corner Stores and donates additional food to partner organizations that help feed people through churches and kitchens. Food that isn’t suitable for feeding people goes to partners who feed animals or compost the food.

This dual approach was a prime example of how preventing food waste achieves both environmental and community goals. In addition to helping address the 35 million Americans who are food insecure, programs like these help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Food is the single-largest category of waste

In the United States, 73 million to 152 million metric tons of food are lost every year during all stages of the supply chain. This has an effect on total greenhouse gas emissions, not just from food decomposing in the landfill, but especially from the logistics systems involved in replacing that wasted food.

The Solid Waste Management District’s efforts (and those of the nearly 600 businesses, governments and organizations actively participating in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge over the last year) will help our country better align to the United Nation’s sustainable development goal target to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030.