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Online Resouce Guide for Food Waste Management Available
In an effort to bring greater awareness around the subject of food waste and to provide resources to food-handling entities so they may wisely manage this material for reduction, donation, animal feed and for composting, the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) has compiled best practices for these entities to use to increase the diversion of this material.

Click the links below for online versions of the guide. Print versions avaliable by request.

Managing Food Waste in NM: Restaurants

Managing Food Waste in NM: Grocers

Planning for Local Community Food Waste Diversion Programs

Why Diverting Food Waste Is Critical
An astonishing 40% of food is wasted in the United States each year at an annual cost of $100 billion (US Department of Agriculture). Almost 15% of American households are suffering from hunger. Hungry people do not always know where their next meal will come from and 50 million people do not have access to enough food.

A new movement has started to manage food waste with best management practices to reduce waste, feed the hungry, feed animals and create soil through the composting process. These practices have been raised to a national priority by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both entities have designated wise food waste management as one of their top priorities in 2014. National organizations, such as the National Restaurant Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have set their own goals to create educational materials to reduce food waste. Corporations and businesses around the US, such as Walmart, prioritize the management of food waste first for donation and then for composting. In fact, Walmart is one of the largest food donors in the US.

Food represents 14.5% of the waste stream in America (EPA). From an environmental perspective, organic materials, of which food waste is a significant component, disposed of in landfills generate methane, a greenhouse gas that is twenty-one times more potent than carbon monoxide. Additionally, 13% of greenhouse gases in the US are associated with growing, manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of food.

Social Benefits:
-Assisting the Hungry
-Less Wasted Food
-Staff Pride of Food Diversion Efforts
-Building Healthy Soils with Compost

Environmental Benefits:
-Less Food Sent to Landfills
-Reducing Food Waste at the Source
-Less Methane Generated From Food in Landfills
-Conservation of Land & Water

Economic Benefits:
-Possibility of Lowered Disposal Costs
-Decreased Over-Purchasing
-Tax Deduction for Food Donation
-Positive Environmental Image and Commitment

Sign Up For The Food Waste Challenge!
Whether your business is thinking about starting a food waste diversion program or has already launched a program, you can sign up for the Food Waste Challenge and receive resources and recognition for your efforts! Two federal agencies have recognized the importance of wise management of food waste, with both entities working jointly to provide educational materials, advisement and recognition through the EPA and USDA Food Waste Challenge.

Learn more and join at

Know What Is In Your Waste Stream
An initial step for any food waste management program is to know what you are throwing away!

Free Waste, Energy and Water Audits for any NM Business
A free service offered by the NMSU Institute for Energy and the Environment enables any food-handling entity in NM to request assistance in evaluating and launching a food waste or recycling program.

Chris Campbell, NMSU Institute for Energy and the Environment, 505-843-4251,

Kitchen Best Practices to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants

  • Adjust Purchasing Habits
  • Cut Back On Food Prep Scraps and Improperly Cooked Food
  • Reuse in the Kitchen
  • Food Safety and Storage
  • Prepared Food Management
  • Donate To Your Local Food Bank
  • Watch Customer’s Plates - What Is Being Ordered, Not Finished or Sent Back
  • Pay Attention to Serving Sizes and Garnishes
  • Matching Appetites- Provide smaller plates at buffets and remove trays
  • Providing Sides – Ask First
  • Downsize Menu Offerings - Less Menu Items Means Less Food Needed On Hand
  • Encourage Take Home With Low-Impact and Recyclable Containers
  • Use Smaller Plates
  • Find Food Waste Assessment Tools Online:

Best practice sources: NRDC Issue Paper, “Wasted: How America is Losing Up To 40% of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill,” August 2012; US EPA Food Reduction and Prevention:; EPA Region 6 Food Waste Reduction Resources.

Grocer Best Practices to Reduce Food Waste

  • Discount Imperfect Produce
  • Discount Shelves for Near Expiration Items
  • Use Smart Product Displays to Avoid Damage
  • Donate To Your Local Food Bank
  • Provide Produce Storage Tips To Consumers

Find Food Waste Assessment Tools Online:

Donate Excess Food Waste To Serve The Hungry
In a study conducted in 2010 by the NM Association of Food Banks entitled “Hunger in New Mexico”, it was found to be a myth that the only people seeking food assistance are without work or homeless. The study found that 32% of households seeking emergency food assistance included at least one employed adult and that only 8% seeking help were homeless.

Donating food to feeding partners could be a potential opportunity for a large-scale restaurant or special event providers, where larger quantities of food is managed and could thus be donated on a regular basis. Grocery stores and food distributors have many opportunities to explore in regard to food donation.

To learn more about the possibility of food donation, contact Roadrunner Food Bank, which serves as a statewide umbrella for New Mexico's feeding partners.

Feeding Food Waste To Animals
Another possibility for diverting food waste is to work with a local farmer or livestock producer to send appropriate food waste to be used as feed. There is guidance on regulations about feeding food waste to animals on both the state and federal level.

Before beginning a food waste to animals diversion project, check with your state or federal regulatory office to ensure your practices are safe and that the recipient farmer is registered with the state if required.

Swine Feeding Guidance: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Veterinary Services department at 505-761-3160.

Commercial Animal Feeding: New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Agricultural and Environmental Services Division, Feed, Seed, and Fertilizer Section, (575) 646-3107.

Diverting Food Waste for Composting
Once all appropriate food has been donated, a food-generating facility can set aside food wastes for compost.

The Value of Composting
--Compost saves water needed to grow food
--Reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides
--Promotes a healthy agricultural system
--Closes the circle: uses food waste to create nutrient-rich soil amendments, which in turn grow healthy food
--Reduces methane and leachate formation in landfills

Two NM Food Waste Collection Services
Reunity Resources, Santa Fe, (505) 629-0836,
Soilutions, Albuquerque, (505) 877-0220,

Food Waste Composting Facilities
Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, (505) 768-2800,
Payne’s Organics Soil Yard, Santa Fe, (505) 424-0336,
Soilutions, Albuquerque, (505) 877-0220,

Download Food Waste Composting Signs For Use

Albuquerque- Area Composting Sign

Santa Fe-Area Composting Sign

Food Waste Management Resources
There are many great online and in-state resources providing research and guidance to manage food waste.

Technical Assistance & Resources for Food Waste and Composting
NM Organics Recycling Organization, 505-238-0489
NM Environment Department: Solid Waste Bureau, Tim Gray, 505-827-0129
NM Department of Agriculture Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners Rules,

Online Resources:
Feeding America
Food to Donate
Food Waste Reduction Alliance: A Partnership of the Food Marketing Institute, National Restaurant Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association
NRDC Issue Paper on Food Waste
New Mexico Association of Food Banks
Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico

NMRC Awards Almost $20,000 in Grant Funds To Combat Food Waste
May 22, 2014– As part of its plan to work with local businesses to promote and increase food waste diversion, The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) awarded $18,750 to three entities working to combat food waste in New Mexico.

Food waste is the single largest type of material entering our landfills. Americans throw away 40% of their food, yet nearly 15% of Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from (EPA). With proper management, food waste can be channeled into the desired diversion hierarchy to first feed people, secondly feed animals and finally collected for compost to enrich soils and therefore grow more food.

“This funding will help support food-generating businesses and events to expand their options for wise food scrap management, thus reducing the amount of this material sent to the landfill,” noted NMRC’s Executive Director, English Bird. “The next phase of this program will be to develop resources and actively educate food handling entities on best practices of food scrap management - so we can see more donations to those in need and increase food scrap composting.” more

NMRC Earns Walmart Grant to Help Stop Hunger through Food Waste Management
December 17, 2013 – The New Mexico Recycling Coalition is excited to announce a new food scraps management program funded by a generous $50,000 grant from The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program.   The project, entitled “Reducing Food Waste in New Mexico: Feeding the Hungry, Building Our Soils and Diverting Waste with Food Management Best Practices,” will provide trainings, resources and market development support to implement food waste reduction, donation and diversion programs.  The campaign will launch in January of 2014 and target food-handling operations in the four largest metropolitan areas of New Mexico: Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe. more 

Business Recycling Forum October 2013: Food Scraps Management
NMRC, in partnership with NMSU's Institute for Energy & the Environment, recently hosted a forum aimed at businesses and facilities that manage food scraps and are working to meet their sustainability objectives in regard to source reduction, recycling and food scrap management. Below please find information from this valuable training.

Managing Food Scraps By Reducing, Donating and Recycling: Charles Fiedler, NMRC

In the food scrap management heirarchy individuals try to first feed people, then animals and then create compost with food scraps.
To that end, the individuals below can help.

Teresa Johansen, Chief Operating Officer at Roadrunner Food Bank, discussed the details of food donation. The Food Bank accepts non-prepared foods but can help to find homes for prepared foods (such as items in a grocery store's deli or restaurant left overs, etc). The Roadrunner Food Bank operations statewide. The Food Bank helps feed nearly 40,000 hungry people in NM each week! More information at

Danny Whatley, Executive Director at Noon Day Ministries, noted that their organization feeds approximately 500 individuals breakfast and lunch each day. Noon Day is an organization that can accept PREPARED food to be fed to the hungry. More info at

Walter Dods, head of the compost division at Soilutions in Albuquerque, discussed collection options to turn food waste into compost. More info can be found at

Walter's presentation can be seen here.

Reducing Waste Before it is Generated and Business Technical Assistance Program: Chris Campbell, NMSU Institute for Energy and the Environment and Jill Turner, NMED Pollution Prevention



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