UC campuses also have been pioneers in implementing many food waste reduction programs, including trayless dining, which reduces the tendency to take more food than can be consumed. Campuses have reported waste reduction of as much as 50 percent per person since trayless dining has been implemented.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Eight UC campuses are taking up the EPA's challenge to reduce food waste by 5 percent during the next year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is organizing a national Food Recovery Challenge in celebration of America Recycles Day 2012 on Thursday ( Nov. 15 ). UC campuses are among about 50 universities across the country participating.
The Food Recovery Challenge is a voluntary program with a goal to cut the 34 million tons of food wasted nationwide annually by reducing unnecessary consumption and increasing donations to charity and increasing composting.
UC campuses participating are Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.
Reducing food waste already is a goal and part of the UC system's Policy on Sustainable Practices. The participating UC campuses have programs in place to reduce waste through composting, recycling, food donations and education.
"We're going to use the challenge as another education opportunity for students staff and faculty," said Dani Lee, sustainability manager for UC Davis Dining Services. UC campuses also have been pioneers in implementing many food waste reduction programs, including trayless dining, which reduces the tendency to take more food than can be consumed. Campuses have reported waste reduction of as much as 50 percent per person since trayless dining has been implemented.
Taking on the EPA's challenge will "strengthen the existing waste reduction practices we have in place on campus," said Gustavo Plascencia, general manager of Safety, Sustainability & Projects for UC Riverside Dining Services.
In addition to higher education institutions, other participants include grocers and entertainment venues, such as Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Nationally, food is the single largest material sent to landfills, accounting for 25 percent of all waste sent to landfills. When excess food, leftovers and scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In turn, limiting wasted food will reduce methane emissions.
"Food waste is a particular problem for California, the world's fifth largest food supplier, because of the enormous quantities of water and energy required for production," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "EPA is proud to partner with these universities as they commit to support the environment and their community by reducing food waste."
A kickoff event for universities participating from the EPA's Pacific Southwest region will be held at UC Berkeley on Thursday ( Nov. 15 ) and will include a tour of the campus' student-led composting network and innovative LeanPath computerized food waste tracking system.
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