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New plan aims to reduce food waste in Michigan by 50% by 2030

Up to 1.5 million tons of food are sent to Michigan landfills every year.
Michigan Radio
Up to 1.5 million tons of food are sent to Michigan landfills every year.

A new plan aims to help Michigan reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.

The Michigan Food Waste Policy Road Map is a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, and the Detroit-based nonprofit, Make Food Not Waste. Stakeholders and experts from farming, food manufacturing, restaurants and grocery stores were also included in drafting the map.

According to the state environment department, food is the most disposed of material in Michigan: up to 1.5 million tons of food waste reach Michigan landfills each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 30 to 40% of all food is landfilled.

The climate solutions nonprofit Project Drawdown estimates that food waste is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Daniel Schoonmaker, the director of the sustainable business forum, said that the greenhouse gas of concern with food waste is methane: "Approximately 61% of the methane generated by landfilled food waste cannot be captured by landfill gas collection systems. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon," Schoonmaker explained.

Schoonmaker said the plan includes the input of many people.

"We brought together over a hundred people over the course of the year from a lot of different parts of the economy," he said. "People who are really enthusiastic about this issue and all the benefits that we could potentially see as a state if we were to move forward these efforts to reduce food loss and food waste over the next decade."

Recommendations in the draft plan include the "creation of a shared language around food waste" to be used between farms, food manufacturers, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses. Schoonmaker said he hopes that this shared language — and measures like more accurate food expiration labels — will change the way businesses and institutions think about food waste.

Beth Weiler is a newsroom intern covering the environment.
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