Mayor Megan Barry, Metro-Nashville Department of Public Works, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Nashville Food Waste Initiative are challenging local businesses to measure their food waste, set a food-waste reduction target, and work to reduce their food waste.
In the inaugural challenge, 55 restaurants committed to taking on one or several food-saving actions for 30 days. Actions such as donating surplus food to nonprofits, donating food scraps for animal consumption, setting up processes to compost organic waste, and education staff and customers on food waste reduction were popular among participating organizations. A local compost company found that their monthly poundage nearly doubled in the time frame.
Participating in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge will reduce the amount of food sent to Middle Tennessee landfills, while helping to relieve hunger by donating wholesome, edible food to local nonprofits serving over 110,000 food-insecure residents in Davidson County.
Both the Nashville Food Waste Initiative and the Mayor’s Restaurant Challenge focus on landfill-diversion strategies based on the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which outlines, in rank order, the most effective management strategies for wasted food that offer the greatest amount of environmental, social and economic benefits.
Forty percent of all food in America goes uneaten, with 95 percent of that wasted food ending up in landfills or incinerators, according to NRDC. In 2015, NRDC selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing high-impact local policies and on-the-ground actions to address food waste. The Waste Reduction & Recycling subcommittee for Mayor Barry’s Livable Nashville Committee has been collaborating with NRDC’s Nashville Food Waste Initiative to set measurable goals and recommendations to increase composting and reduce food waste generated in Davidson County across municipal, residential, and commercial sectors.
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