(Last Updated 12/20/2021)
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 municipal 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, 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.
Policy research for this tool was conducted by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, with state date labeling information produced by FLPC in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and animal feed policy information produced by FLPC in partnership with the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Given the widespread support for food waste solutions, we anticipate the ongoing creation of new policy, and look forward to updating this tool accordingly. We also plan to add additional municipal-level policy information in the future. Please contact us at [email protected] if you notice any outdated state laws or know of any policies we haven’t yet added to the site.
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.
The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic Established in 2010, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) addresses the health, environmental, and economic consequences of the laws and policies that govern our food system. The 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.
- 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)
Food Waste Related Legislation
- Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act (provides liability protections for food donors)
- The PATH Act (allows businesses to receive an enhanced deduction for food donations)
- 2018 Farm Bill (includes several provisions related to food waste, including the creation of a food waste liaison at USDA, clarifying language on liability protections, and the establishment of a pilot program for compost and food waste reduction plans)
Pending Food Waste Related Legislation: