A newly signed law is one of the most aggressive in the country. 

By Elisabeth Sherman
Updated July 27, 2017
American Food Waste
Credit: © John Lund / Getty Images

A new law in New Jersey—one of the strongest stances against climate change in the U.S. right now—aims to cut the state's food waste in half by 2030. Lawmakers also hope that the law will reduce the state’s climate footprint and add much needed resources in their fight against hunger. The bill passed the New Jersey legislature unanimously and was signed by Governor Chris Christie last week.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Department, around 40 percent of the food that Americans eat ends up in landfills—that’s $165 billion in food per year. “Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables,” the department wrote in a 2012 report.

In a report from Grist, Larry Hajna, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said that while the state has been working to lower their methane emissions, much of their food waste is shipped to out-of-state landfills, where they don’t have any say over how emissions are controlled. Grist found that “processing food waste generates about 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually.”

Many cities and states already have mandates that require businesses and individuals to properly manage their food waste so it doesn’t all end up in a landfill: San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin require that people compost their fruits and vegetables, while Connecticut and Rhode Island have a cap on the amount of a food businesses can send to landfills every year.

Another bill currently under consideration in New Jersey would require that restaurants and supermarkets sort their garbage from food waste and recycle the waste portion. Meanwhile, on a much smaller scale, a Denver based company called the Real Dill successfully achieved zero food waste by composting their scraps—and using the leftovers to make Bloody Marys.