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Organics Management

Food Waste Prevention

According to the U.S. EPA, we generated more than 37 million tons of wasted food in 2013. Only 5% of that amount was diverted from the landfill or incinerator and was composted. Food waste is the largest component of our country and state's municipal solid waste. Washington State 2009 data shows that:
  • 17% of our overall garbage is food
  • 24% of our residential garbage is food
  • 22% of commercial garbage is food

Wasted Food

Food Recovery
Food waste prevention, donation and management
Tools & Other Resources


EPA developed a Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy to recommend ways to reduce the amount of food being wasted. The order of preference is:
  1. Source Reduction - Reduce the amount of food waste being generated.
  2. Feed People - Donate excess food to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
  3. Feed Animals - Provide food scraps to farmers.
  4. Industrial Uses - Provide fats for rendering, oil for fuel, food discards for animal feed production, or anaerobic digestion combined with soil amendment production or composting residuals.
  5. Composting - Recycle food scraps into a nutrient rich soil amendment.
  6. Landfill/Incineration - This should be the last option.


Food: Too Good to Waste (EPA): Learn how to prevent reduce food waste at home and save money (average family saves $1,600/year) and other resources. Food Recovery Challenge (EPA): Your business or organization can learn to reduce your costs, improve your image, feed your communities and protect your environment.


We have state and federal laws that protect food donors from liability when donating wholesome food in good faith. Food Donation Case studies