(Last Updated 05/20/2022)
About the policy finder
Public policy can offer opportunities to accelerate large-scale food waste reduction. In the U.S., policy related to food waste exists at the federal, state, and local levels, though the characteristics of these policies and the extent to which they promote or impede food waste reduction vary significantly — whether they incentivize good practices, penalize bad behavior, or clarify what activities are allowed.
ReFED and the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic collaborated to develop the Food Waste Policy Finder in order to provide an overview of current federal and state policies related to food waste. The tool is intended to depict the existing policy landscape while highlighting best-practice legislation in order to promote the continued development and implementation of sound food waste policy.
The tool presents policies within the food waste hierarchy framework (prioritizing food waste prevention, followed by food recovery for humans, and finally recycling solutions). Policy areas currently featured in the tool include: date labeling regulations, donation liability protections, donation tax incentives, animal feed regulations, and organic waste bans and waste recycling laws.
Given the widespread support for food waste solutions, we anticipate the ongoing creation of new policy, and will continue to update this tool accordingly. We also plan to add additional features in the future. Please contact us at [email protected] if you notice any outdated state laws, know of any policies we haven’t yet added to the site, or have ideas for additional features that would be useful to you.
The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) serves partner organizations and communities in the U.S. and around the world by providing guidance on cutting-edge food system issues, while engaging law students in the practice of food law and policy. Among other issue areas, FLPC is at the forefront of policy research on reducing food waste in the United States and globally and has published several resources pertaining to federal and state policies related to food waste. FLPC partners with ReFED on development and maintenance of the Food Waste Policy Finder.
- Global Food Donation Policy Atlas (in partnership with the Global FoodBanking Network).
- Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities
- Recommendations to Strengthen The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and Natural Resources Defense Council)
- Leftovers for Livestock: A Legal Guide for Using Excess Food as Animal Feed (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas School of Law)
- Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas School of Law)
- The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and Natural Resources Defense Council)
- Food Safety Regulations & Guidance for Food Donations: A Fifty-State Survey of State Practices (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Safety for Donations Working Group)
- Date Labels: The Case for Federal Legislation
- Bans and Beyond: Designing and Implementing Organic Waste Bans and Mandatory Organic Recycling Laws (by the Harvard Law School Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for EcoTechnology)
- US Food Loss & Waste Policy Action Plan for Congress & the Administration (by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, ReFED, World Wildlife Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council)
The United States Department of Agriculture provides resources for various stakeholders, including funding opportunities, educational resources, and updates on interagency food loss and waste reduction efforts.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides educational resources, funding opportunities, and tips for communities and businesses. The EPA also created the Food Recovery Hierarchy, which explains how some food waste reduction activities are preferential to others.
The EPA, USDA, and FDA formed the Federal Interagency Food Loss and Waste Collaboration, which outlines priorities and strategies for reducing food waste at the federal level.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has extensive resources on food waste reduction, including Save the Food, a tool that aids in meal planning, food storage, and innovative recipes for root to leaf cooking.
The World Wildlife Fund has a variety of reports and publications to reduce food loss and waste from farm to table. Toolkits include school education programs, policy action plans, and hotel and food service guides.
Further with Food This virtual resource provides comprehensive information, solutions, and innovative new approaches to combat food loss and waste in the United States.
National Gleaning Project A project of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at the Vermont Law School, this site provides information on national and state laws pertaining to gleaning — the practice of recovering unharvested crops for distribution to food-insecure populations.
In partnership with the Nashville Food Waste Initiative, the Environmental Law Institute created A Toolkit for Incorporating Food Waste in Municipal Climate Action Plans, which evaluates current municipal Climate Action Plans and offers strategies for effectively implementing a food waste aspect.
The NRDC and the Environmental Law Institute wrote a model Compost Procurement Policy, which any municipality can easily use to encourage compost purchasing programs.