By Kate Worley

USDA and EPA Release the “National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics”

On June 12, 2024, under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA, EPA, and FDA released the “National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics.” ¹ The “National Strategy” presents a path to reduce food loss and waste by 2030 and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save businesses and individuals money, and build cleaner communities. ¹ The final “National Strategy” was announced after a draft was released in January 2023 with a comment period.

Tackling the problem of food waste has been a priority for the U.S. government for over a decade and has been a focus for many businesses and organizations for much longer. Denali has a long history managing organic waste streams, with a focus on circularity. Beginning in the 1990s recycling wastewater and industrial byproducts and most recently, starting in 2009, recycling food waste for the nation’s largest retailers.

Denali is founded with the mission that organic wastes have inherent nutrient value for the environment that, through recycling, we can “close the loop” back into our food supply chain.  As stated recently by Denali CEO Todd Mathes in Forbes, “”We believe waste should not be wasted. We are part of an infrastructure that’s needed – I think that’s important and exciting. We want to make sure the world is fed in a sustainable way.”

The newest released “National Strategy” cites key challenges, strategic actions, and supporting efforts needed to achieve 50% reduction in food loss and waste by 2030. Denali supports this “National Strategy” as a crucial next step, with tangible actions to continue tackling food waste.

A few thoughts on the “National Strategy” from the perspective of a leading nationwide organics recycler:

1. Denali applauds the recycling infrastructure expansion needs to include multiple recycling pathways to manage organic wastes: animal feed, compost, and industrial products. This is also reflected in the EPA’s Food Waste Scale, in which Denali plays a role in all recycling options.

2. Within infrastructure, the expansion of managing other materials such as plastic packaging (mechanical depackaging) and reliable hauling are both crucial to the success of organics recycling – and are a part of Denali’s many current service offerings. Although there are definitely infrastructure gaps, Denali’s nationwide scale and capabilities prove that this infrastructure may exist more than realized. It is just not being fully utilized.

3. The opportunity to improve data through collaboration, tools, and strategies is one that Denali closely supports. In any effort, and particularly one as important as food loss and waste reduction, the old saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is especially crucial to moving the needle in a positive direction.

4. Denali fully supports the expansion of markets for recycled products. The products made from recycled organic wastes align with the environmental benefits cited at the beginning of the “National Strategy,” including climate change, water and soil quality, water scarcity, air quality, and biodiversity loss. Incorporating the recycled products back into the earth is the only way to fully close the circular loop on organics recycling.

5. The acknowledgement of policy and funding needed to expand organics recycling, support innovation, and encourage research are important to tackling food loss and waste, as well as the future of organics recycling.

The release of the “National Strategy” is another important step in tackling food loss and waste. After a focus on waste reduction and recovery, the priority of recycling is important to capture the valuable nutrients in organic wastes and close the circular loop.

Timeline Overview of Food Waste Initiatives:

  • 2013 – USDA and EPA announced the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. ²
  • 2015 – USDA and EPA jointly announced the “Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal.”
  • 2015 – United Nations announced its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 12.3 for food loss and waste.
  • 2021 – U.S. government officially aligned to the UN SDG 12.3. ¹
  • 2023 EPA released the “Wasted Food Scale.” ⁴
  • 2024 – Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics” was opened for comments (Jan. 2024).
  • 2024 – Final “National Strategy” report released (June 2024).

To read more about the U.S. EPA’s New “Wasted Food Scale” click HERE.

If you are a business or manufacturer that would like to learn more about recycling your food byproducts or other organic waste streams, contact Denali for more information. We can help you set up a customized program to fit your service needs, organic waste streams, and provide the best value.

About Denali
Denali is a leading expert and recycler in the U.S. organics recycling industry. In food waste alone, Denali was responsible for managing over 1.7 billion pounds of food waste from retail, foodservice, and industrial food processors in 2023. In recognizing the impact that food waste has on the climate, Denali is committed to working with customers to find innovative, data-driven solutions to reduce waste on the front end. Denali views what others consider “waste” as a valuable resource, manages multiple recycling facilities in the U.S., and has a sizeable fleet to transport organic wastes to a diverse network of recyclers. As a contributor to the circular economy, Denali closes the loop by producing valuable products from recycled organics, including animal feed, biodiesel, compost, tire lubricants, and mulch.

 

KHeadshot Kate Worleyate Worley is Vice President of Sustainability at Denali. She has worked for more than a decade with some of the largest companies in the world to drive sustainability and reduce waste.

 

 


1. “Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics,” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). June 2024. https://www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste/national-strategy#:~:text=On%20June%2012%2C%202024%20the,waste%20by%2050%25%20by%202030
2. “USDA and EPA Release the U.S. Food Waste Challenge,”. United States Department of Agriculture. June 4, 2013. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2013/06/04/usda-and-epa-launch-us-food-waste-challenge#:~:text=WASHINGTON%2C%20June%204%2C%202013%20%E2%80%93,%2C%20retailers%2C%20communities%2C%20and%20other
3. “USDA and EPA Join with Private Sector, Charitable Organizations to Set Nation’s First Food Waste Reduction Goals,” United States Department of Agriculture. September 16, 2015. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2015/09/16/usda-and-epa-join-private-sector-charitable-organizations-set
4. “Wasted Food Scale,” U.S. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/wasted-food-scale