DEQ places a high priority on actions aimed at preventing wasted food. Food is a high impact material and a lot of it is wasted – an estimated 35% of all food produced in or imported into the U.S. is never eaten. Every time we waste food, we're wasting the resources that went into producing it. According to EPA data, growing wasted food uses up a land area equivalent the states of California and New York, combined, and uses enough water annually to supply 50 million U.S. households. Food production also generates significant greenhouse gases – while many are aware of the GHGs generated by disposal of food waste in landfills, less well known is the fact (documented by EPA WARM data) that preventing food waste in the first place has 6 to 7 times the GHG reduction potential of diverting food waste from landfills.
2023 Food Strategic Plan Development
In the time since the Strategy for Preventing the Wasting of Food was published, some important changes have occurred that effect DEQ's thinking about its next strategic planning process. These changes include:
- The governor issued an Executive Order on climate change in March 2020 that directed DEQ to reduce food waste by half by 2030.
- DEQ has developed an appreciation of the importance of understanding food systems when we think about reducing the impacts of food.
- DEQ has strengthened its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in its programs.
In 2021, DEQ initiated work to create a new strategic plan to shape Oregon's approach for the next five years, keeping the changes above in mind. DEQ's strategy is to take a whole-systems, equitable approach when surveying the food system, and has divided future food work into three areas: sustainable production, sustainable consumption and sustainable waste management.
While food waste prevention will remain a priority for the second strategic plan, DEQ is considering other priorities and is engaging with partners across the state to build a statewide, co-created plan to achieve Oregon's goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
To address the impacts of food waste, in March 2017, DEQ released its Strategy for Preventing the Wasting of Food. The plan outlined a framework to direct DEQ's work over a five-year period to encourage reductions in wasted food across the supply chain to support Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision.
Between 2017 and 2021, DEQ implemented several projects that made significant, measurable contributions to the state's waste reduction goals. Highlights from these projects include:
- Wasted Food Measurement Study: a five-part study that estimated the amount of wasted food generated by households in the State of Oregon and identified reasons for that waste.
- “Bad Apple" Campaign: an award-winning, research-based campaign to raise consumer awareness and reduce residential food waste.
- “Wasted Food, Wasted Money" Campaign: campaign for use by local governments to promoting food waste reduction in Oregon restaurants, workshops on how to reduce food waste.
- Food Waste Stops With Me: partnership with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and Metro that included development of web resources and delivery of live workshops to promote food waste reduction in Oregon restaurants.
- Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment, an innovative collaborative effort bringing together West Coast states, the Province of British Columbia and cities.
- Food Rescue Grants: support for edible food rescue through grants to food rescue organizations in Oregon including a $140,000 grant to the Oregon Food Bank resulting in the rescue of 2 million pounds of food that otherwise would have been wasted due to COVID-caused supply chain disruptions.
- Cutting edge research, such as the Environmental Impacts of Food and the Life Cycle Assessment of Edible Food Rescue.
If you want to learn more about this project or find ways to contribute, please contact:
Elaine Blatt, Direct: 503-229-6492; Cell: 503-875-8626
For general updates on this project and to receive a copy of the strategic plan once it's released, sign up for GovDelivery
DEQ is strongly committed to implementing an inclusive process for developing the next strategic plan that actively engages a broad range of stakeholders in identifying and developing food priorities. To that end, DEQ is planning to convene a series of “listening sessions" beginning this summer to solicit input from stakeholders on priority activities that should be included in the next strategic plan. Please check back here for information on upcoming meetings.