Durbin, Grassley Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Curb Food Waste

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced the bipartisan Reduce Food Loss and Waste Act, legislation that would prevent and reduce food waste across the country.  Each year, the U.S. produces and imports nearly 241 million tons of food annually, but 33 percent of this food is never sold or eaten, while millions of Americans experience food insecurity. 

Specifically, the Reduce Food Loss and Waste Act would establish a “Food Loss and Waste Reduction Certification,” and direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create:

  • Criteria, which businesses and organizations would have to meet to receive the certification;
  • A verification process, to confirm that businesses and organizations have achieved the criteria; and
  • A label, which certified businesses and organizations would be authorized to use on their products, buildings, and websites.

“While millions of Americans face food insecurity, millions of tons of food waste end up in landfills every year and contribute to methane emissions that drive the climate crisis.  We must address these crises for the sake of hungry families, our economy, and our environment,” said Durbin. “Today, I’m introducing the bipartisanReduce Food Loss and Waste Act with Senator Grassley to move our country toward more conscious consumption and curbing food waste.”

“We shouldn’t let the food that farmers work so hard to produce go to waste, especially when so many families suffer from food insecurity,” Grassley said.  “Through the work of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center housed at the University of Northern Iowa, I’ve seen first-hand the economic and environmental benefits that come from reducing food waste.  Our bill would help cut back on food waste by recognizing businesses for using excess food responsibly and incentivizing others to improve their practices.”

Food waste has significant economic, environmental, and social impacts.  More than $440 billion is spent annually to produce and dispose of food that is never consumed or sold.  Sending uneaten food to landfills or incinerators is responsible for the use of more than 20 trillion liters of water, which is equivalent to the annual water use of 50 million homes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Additionally, just one-third of food waste, if saved from disposal, could feed the 34 million Americans, including five million children, who are suffering from food insecurity, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The “Food Loss and Waste Reduction Certification” would be similar to existing certifications, such as ENERGY STAR and the BioPreferred Program.  The Reduce Food Loss and Waste Act would direct USDA to promote the certification to ensure that consumers are informed about which businesses and organizations have received it.

The Reduce Food Loss and Waste Act has earned endorsements from the National Resources Defense Council, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, ReFED, National Restaurant Association, Consumer Brands Association, FMI – The Food Industry Association, and Kellanova.