US organics recycling: 2022/2023 highlights

In the US, a number of legislations related to the country’s organics recycling were officially mandated. While some of these laws may not directly impact an indoor farm’s crop production, we always believe that assessing the full supply chain within the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry is key. In order to do that, addressing things fully, which spans the gamut of food waste to even its packaging, is what we hope some of these highlights will help indoor farms think about in order to drive the maximum amount of impact.

New York State
Effective January 1, 2022, the NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law requires that businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of two tons of wasted food per week to donate excess edible food and recycle all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler (composting facility, anaerobic digester, etc.). However, it’s important to remember that this law does not include New York City (which already has a local law in place requiring the diversion of food scraps from disposal), and hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 Schools, and farms. Despite farms not being required to adhere to this law, it doesn’t mean that positive action can’t be taken ahead of time. 

Then, we have the updating of the Hazardous Packaging Act, which now includes the restriction of the use of PFAS in food packaging, specifically to packaging with intentionally added PFAS. Food packaging includes any packages or packaging components that are intended for direct food contact and are comprised mainly of paper, paperboard, or other materials derived from plant fibers. For indoor farms, this could affect how your crops are sent to your consumers, particularly seeing how many industry players use various types of material for their packaging. This law excludes glass, metal, plastic, and other materials that are not derived from plant fibers.

Michigan
In Michigan, eight bills designed to update the state’s recycling and waste collection practices were signed into law. Firstly, composting facility operators need to meet new standards and requirements, including metrics reporting. For any indoor farms that are working with composting facilities, take note of this, especially if reporting needs are changing, which will ultimately mean that farms will also need to be more mindful of their own standards as part of the facility’s value chain. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will also be updating its current composting regulations — including for food waste recycling — in 2023.

Maryland
Back on the East Coast, Maryland issued a law that applies to schools, businesses, organizations, and manufacturers of “human food” that generate at least 2 tons per week of food waste. The state details in this legislation the method of calculation of the quantity of food waste generated, food waste prevention, donation, composting, and anaerobic digestion. For indoor farms that supply to supermarkets or food distributors, it’s worth assessing how this may affect your customer’s needs as well.

Main Takeaways

  • Increased food waste diversion legislation across several states can provide indoor farms better access to organics recycling opportunities – make the most of it!
  • As packaging laws expand, take note of whether the materials used for an indoor farm’s packaging fall under any of these legislations, especially for those supplying to customers in different states that may have varying laws
  • Some states are updating reporting metrics for recycling and waste collection at composting facilities, which could trickle down to indoor farms as part of these facilities’ value chain

For more information:
Re-nuble
www.re-nuble.com


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