Curbing the 35% of food that goes uneaten each year will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and land resources, and support those facing food insecurity— which has become increasingly critical in the wake of COVID-19. DEQ’s Materials Management program prioritizes food waste reduction, and leads a variety of projects to reduce food waste. One of those efforts is DEQ’s ongoing support of regional food waste reductions through the Pacific Coast Collaborative, an international governmental agency focused on several environmental initiatives, including food waste reduction.
In March, the Pacific Coast Collaborative recruited Food Northwest to join theWest Coast Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Wasted Food with the goal to cut food waste in half by 2030. Food Northwest, based in Portland, is one of the nation’s largest food processing trade associations, with 150 processor members and over 350 suppliers. This announcement opens the door for manufacturers based in Washington and Oregon to reduce food loss and waste in their operations and engage with other businesses in the food supply chain to reduce waste.
“Oregon is highly committed to reducing wasted food,” said Elaine Blatt, Senior Policy Analyst in DEQ’s Materials Management program. “We’re so pleased that this Oregon-based association has stepped into this critical role and will likely propel other businesses to address one of today’s most pressing environmental issues.”
Other ways DEQ has prioritized food waste prevention include delivering commercial food waste prevention workshops across the state and conducting research to better understand the environmental impacts and trade-offs of diverting food from various sources (e.g., farms, groceries, restaurants) to feed Oregon residents experiencing food insecurity. Last year DEQ launched a campaign Getting Our Food To Go The Distance During COVID-19, which celebrates the frontline workers in the food industry while providing practical tips to help people reduce food waste at home.
“Oregon is highly committed to reducing wasted food,” said Elaine Blatt, Senior Policy Analyst in DEQ’s Materials Management program.
DEQ is currently working on a statewide campaign to reduce food waste, which it plans to launch at the end of the summer. All of this work is consistent with direction in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-04 to reduce food waste by half by 2030.
More information about DEQ’s work to reduce food waste is available here.
— Julie Miller, Communications Specialist for Oregon DEQ Materials Management Program