New York may be known for its bright lights, tourist attractions, and giant slices of pizza, but the state could also soon be known as a leader in diverting food waste from landfills! As the state of New York considers implementing a food waste ban, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) and New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) are working together to assist businesses and service providers with their wasted food diversion. The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) has partnered with NYSP2I to continue to provide wasted food expertise for entities throughout the state. One of the most recent resources, a series of legal fact sheets regarding food donation in NY, was developed in collaboration with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic.

WFS food donation

Similar fact sheets have been helpful for the food industry in other states, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. These resources have already been a huge benefit for food waste generators and service providers by adding confidence surrounding the rules and protections for their businesses. The recently released New York documents explain the legal backgrounds of liability protections, date labeling laws, tax incentives, and feeding food scraps to animals.

  • Liability protections are robust for individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and institutions who donate food in good faith to nonprofit organizations. These protections include the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act as well as additional state protections, such as those in New York.
  • Date labels often lead to confusion for consumers and businesses, generating unnecessary food waste. Neither the federal government nor New York regulate date labeling on food products, making it more important for manufacturers and retailers to be aware of local laws or create clarity if choosing to label.
  • Tax incentives at the state level are available for farmers who donate food to a qualifying entity in the form of a tax credit. Some farmers and businesses are also eligible for federal tax deductions.
  • Feeding food scraps to animals is highly regulated by the federal government under at least four laws, concerning both the type of food scraps as well as type of animals. The state regulates feeding food scraps to cattle, swine, and poultry as well under certain conditions.

Businesses and institutions can access these tools, along with many others, on the New York page of CET’s Wasted Food Solutions website. The NY legal fact sheets were created with support from the USDA Rural Utility Services. CET’s Wasted Food Solutions, supported by partners such as the USDA Rural Utilities Service and other state agencies, connects food waste generators with service providers in the food diversion industry. To learn more or to request assistance, contact the program today by e-mailing or calling the hotline at 888-813-8552!