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$100,000 grant seeks to reduce Michigan food waste

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(The Center Square) – A $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy seeks to reduce Michigan food waste and carbon emissions.

EGLE will boost work by the nonprofit Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Make Food Not Waste, Center for EcoTechnology, and an advisory council of industry stakeholders to develop a road map to reducing food waste.

Michigan disposes of more than 1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream annually. Food waste is the largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, 30%-40% of the state’s food supply is wasted. The nonprofit Project Drawdown estimates that wasted food accounts for roughly 8% of global emissions.

The MI Healthy Climate Plan, Michigan’s roadmap to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, recommends Michigan adopt a joint USDA/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency goal to halve food waste by 2030.

The project will engage stakeholders to guide policymakers on potential incentives, funding mechanisms, technical assistance, outreach, policy changes, and other programs that could reduce food waste.

The project team seeks collaborators to join a series of virtual discussions to develop recommendations for cross-sector solutions. Sessions will present current research and the potential applicability of best practices and policies and will draft recommendations for each interest area.

Individuals with experience in food loss or food waste within agriculture, food processing and production, grocery and retail, food service, and transportation and logistics sectors can participate by signing up on the Michigan Sustainable Business Forum website or clicking here.

Working sessions will focus on the following topics:

Production standards: Current date labeling verbiage and potential universal verbiage and standardization of low-waste and efficient packaging and production protocols.Food donation: Current liability and incentive policies for food donation, technical support needed for constructive donations, and the Michigan food recovery landscape.Waste reduction technologies, practice improvements, employee training: Best practices for waste reduction, including supply chain demand planning, methods for measuring food waste, and barriers to effective employee training and engagement.Secondary markets: Channels for food surplus (such as animal feed and FlashFood); best practices for food measurement and transport; price impact concerns; business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and upcycling programs; and education and communication tools for industry sectors and the public.Infrastructure improvements: Food industry stakeholders’ needs for food collection, processing, storage, and distribution. Resources needed to overcome infrastructure barriers.Community awareness and education: Practices to reach household markets with recommendations, involve industry sectors to lead and educate the community, and innovative ideas and progress in food waste reduction.

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