As of July 1, 2020, all Vermont residents and businesses must divert their food waste from landfills. Businesses such as restaurants, bakeries, and markets often have excess food going to waste which can be composted or donated instead! This page describes the benefits and liability protections to food donors, along with some examples of businesses already practicing food donation.
What are the benefits of donating food?
About 10% of Vermonters (64,370 people) are food insecure, meaning they don’t have regular access to nutritious food (Hunger Free Vermont). While donating food that would be wasted is not a solution, it can provide aid to those in need and reduce waste. to reducing poverty, it can provide aid for people in need to live fuller lives.
Direct Benefits for Businesses:
- Save Money: Removing food waste from trash, will reduce the weight, cost and frequency of trash pickups.The cost of trash collection will be lower for businesses that donate food, since it affords less weight and fewer trash pickups. Additionally, food donations are federally recognized tax deductible charitable contributions for non-C corporations. Click the following link for more information on tax deductions.
- Public and employee relations: Businesses and organizations that do the right thing receive positive publicity from the local community for food donations and community involvement. We will welcome companies to share success stories on our Facebook or submit for sharing on our website.certainly advertise your contributions on our website and Facebook! Additionally, chefs and other employees are much more fulfilled knowing that the food they make is eaten by people that need it instead of being sent to the landfill.
What Do I Do?
The good news is there are lots of environmentally friendly ways to divert your organics!
- Food Hauler
- Food Rescue
- Food Pantry
The Agency of Natural Resources created a "Universal Recycling Materials Management Map" (Materials Management Map). This map connects residents and businesses with collection services and food rescue agencies in order to reduce waste and increase systems to manage food waste for beneficial uses.
How Do I Donate?
Did You Know?
The Basics of Food Donation
- No need to worry about the liability of donating good food, you’re protected by Federal and State laws!
- Need a break? Food donation is considered a charitable contribution for tax deductions.
- It’s as simple as contacting a local food shelf, and following the state guidance for donating food safely.
Many people think of food waste as a benign substance.
It rots down in the landfill anyway, so no problem, right?
Wrong! For food to compost properly, it needs light and air. In the landfill, it has neither. Instead, food without light and air produces methane gas, which contributes to global warming. It is estimated that we throw away one third of the food we buy each week!
Implementing Changes in Your Business
10 Ways you can reduce food waste in your business
Here are some tips to reduce food waste in your business:
- Smart production planning: small batch production is one effective way minimize food waste, as only the required portion of food needs to be defrosted for use.
- Store products properly: all products should be stored in standard food boxes or food packaging wrap where appropriate. This will prevent cross contamination. Hot items must be properly cooled before being refrigerated, to prevent the growth of bacteria and to maintain the internal temperature of the fridge for other items.
- Keep everything labeling and organized: in preventing food spoilage, organization is key. Clearly label all orders with the date it arrived and when it must be used by. Be sure to arrange them by the First In, First Out storage method (FIFO), placing new items behind older items so the oldest stock is used first.
- Staff engagement: setting targets for food waste reduction is a proactive way in identifying ways to cut down. Ask front-of-house staff to pay extra attention to what dishes are consistently left half eaten, It may be necessary to reduce the portion size.
- Train your team: good food safety practices go hand in hand with reduction of food waste. Effective food safety training will educate food handlers on the best methods to safely prepare and store your food to prevent spoilage and protect your customers.
- Regularly rotate the food in the fridge and warehouse: Set the foods that should be used first.. A very convenient way of storing food in the refrigerator is the rule “right to left”. New foods always store on the right side of the fridge while existing food you move further to the left. When you are taking out the food for preparation, you are, of course, using the reverse order “from left to right.” In this way, your food will always be fresh and you will be reducing your food waste.
- Track food waste regularly: Whether it’s every day, one week a month or once a quarter, keep staff accountable by keeping a daily waste sheet in the kitchen. Require staff to write down and initial any wasted items. Understanding the type of food you are wasting allows you to consider alternatives and opportunities to creatively re-purpose in other dishes.
- Improve your prep schedule: Review prep schedules and aim for food to be prepped and cooked only when needed.
- Reduce surplus waste at the end of the day: Offer end-of-day specials to get some return on surplus production. If you have an evening drinks crowd, serve end-of-day surplus as free canapés to attract more customers.
- Extend the shelf life of your produce: Solutions such as eWater have been scientifically proven to reduce food spoilage and extend shelf life of fresh produce, including fish, fruit and vegetables. Potentially doubling the shelf life of your produce will make a world of difference to how much food spoilage you have to contend with.
Food Waste Success Stories
Green Mountain College Dining Hall
In October of 2017, Green Mountain College students in Poultney began a project to donate surplus food to the local community. Excess production is cooled to and stored below 41° F by dining hall staff, then is packaged as individual meals and delivered by volunteers. The food is made available at the Young at Heart Senior Center, where seniors can take home the meals to reheat for other meals. There were over 750 pounds of food recovered and donated from the dining hall from October to December of 2017.
The Barn Restaurant, Pawlet
A small restaurant and tavern on Route 30 in Pawlet, Vermont, The Barn uses connections with the local community to ensure that food doesn't go to waste. All of the kitchen scraps are taken to feed chickens and pigs that the staff raise. The Barn also caters some events, and the leftover food is taken to the Pawlet firehouse by employees who have selflessly volunteered to drop the food off on their way home from working at the restaurant. The food is stored in a freezer and is then taken to the Open Door Mission in Rutland by a volunteer firefighter.
Mettawee Community School
Mettawee Community School had an idea to reduce their trash costs and environmental impact by composting its food scraps from the cafeteria. They have started an on-site composting program at the school. Food wastes are diverted to the on-site composting system.
Universal Recycling Guidance for Businesses & Institutions
1. ANR Letter to Food Scrap Haulers
2. FAQs Handout for Businesses & Institutions
3. Managing Food Scraps at Businesses & Institiutions
4. Statewide Directory of Food Scrap Haulers
5. Find a Vermont Composting Facility Near You Using the Materials Management Map
6. Webinar: Universal Recycling at Food Establishments
- If you know of composters (from facilities, schools, businesses, community sites, etc.) that could use some technical assistance beyond what you provide, they can contact Compost Technical Services for free assistance (ANR/DEC funds this). Assistance includes everything from initial site planning and assessment to permitting support, custom management plans, and systems design. To learn more, contact James McSweeney at 802-224-6888 or james@
BUSINESS WASTE ASSISTANCE
In addition to what most people would classify as a business, schools, municipal offices, and town garages are also considered businesses when it comes to disposing of hazardous waste.
If you use products that are corrosive, ignitable, reactive, or toxic, then you probably generate hazardous waste. Examples include solvents, paints, and vehicular fluids like motor oil, diesel fuel, and antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning solutions, and lab wastes. Fluorescent bulbs and some types of batteries are also considered hazardous.
If you use products that are corrosive, ignitable, reactive, or toxic, then you probably generate hazardous waste. Examples include solvents, paints, and vehicular fluids like motor oil, diesel fuel, and antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning solutions, and lab wastes. Consider "Greening Up" your business.
Many types of businesses and organizations create hazardous waste, including:
- Construction and painting contractors
- Equipment repair shops
- Furniture refinishing shops
- Dry cleaners
- Metal manufacturing operations
- Vehicle maintenance and auto body shops
- Farmers, nurseries, landscapers (businesses using pesticides or herbicides)
- Municipal entities – including schools, town offices, and town garages
PROPER DISPOSAL OF HAZARDOUS WASTE:
Hazardous waste should not be disposed of with ordinary garbage, or poured into the sewer system, down storm drains, or onto the ground. If disposed of improperly, it can harm the environment, human beings, and wildlife. Proper hazardous waste management makes good business sense, too, and can reduce your economic liability for cleanups, reduce your insurance costs, and minimize employee exposures.
Hazardous waste should always be disposed of through an approved hazardous waste management or recycling facility. There are private companies that provide hazardous waste management services to businesses and organizations. Businesses that generate small quantities of hazardous waste are known as Conditionally Exempt Generators (CEGs). If your business or organization is a CEG, you may be eligible to dispose of your waste through an agreement between the Solid Waste Alliance Communities and the Rutland County Solid Waste Management District.
Does Your Business Qualify as a CEG? A Conditionally Exempt Generator:
- Produces less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste each month (about 25 gallons of liquid waste that has a weight comparable to water);
- Produces less than 2.2 pounds of acutely** hazardous waste each month;
- Accumulates no more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste on site.
To determine whether you might be considered a CEG, estimate the waste you produce each month and inventory the hazardous waste currently on hand. If your business generates less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month and stores less than 2,200 pounds on site, you qualify as a CEG. If your business generates more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month or stores more than 2,200 pounds on site, you must manage your waste according to stricter regulations. For more information, call the Agency of Natural Resources, Waste Management Division at 802-241-3888 or visit www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/wastediv/rcra/regs.htmto review the current Regulations (effective October 1, 2004). Here is a small quantity generator handbook that you may find helpful.
What Are Your Disposal Options
The Rutland County Solid Waste Management District accepts business hazardous waste at its hazardous waste facility located at Gleason Road in Rutland, Vermont during regularly scheduled working hours.
If you plan on taking your waste to the Rutland County Solid Waste Distict Hazardous Waste Depot, it is necessary to schedule an appointment. Please call 775-7209 for additional information or to schedule an appointment.
Disposal fees are based on the type and quantity of waste you bring to the facility or event. When you arrive for an appointment, your wastes will be inventoried. You will be charged a fee for the actual quantity of waste brought in rather than the volume of the container it is stored in. Businesses who use pesticides may dispose of their waste at no charge through a grant made possible by the Department of Agriculture (i.e. Nurseries, golf courses, farmers, landscapers, etc.) If you have questions about participating in the collection program, call 775-7209 for more information. If you have questions about what materials are considered hazardous waste, either of the above numbers or visit the Agency of Natural Resources website at http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/wastediv/rcra/rcrahome.htm. Additional information as well as contact information are listed on the site.
MERCURY BANNED FROM DISPOSAL IN VERMONT LANDFILLS
As of July 1, 2007, it is illegal to dispose of mercury or products containing mercury (whether they are labelled or not) in Vermont landfills. This includes, but is not limited to, fluorescent bulbs and mercury containing lamps, laptops, mercury thermometers, mercury thermostats, all flat panel screens (example: computer monitors) or any other mercury containing device. Fluorescent lamps and electronic devices (computers, hand-held devices) are collected at local transfer stations and approved collection locations throughout the county. There may be disposal fees in place. Check with your local transfer station for additional details. All other mercury containing products can be taken to the RCSWD hazardous waste depot during normal operating hours. Businesses may pay a nominal disposal fee. Visit mercvt.org for detailed information.
Does Your Business Generate Construction and Demolition Debris? (Clean wood waste, cardboard, sheetrock, or scrap metal)
The State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources maintains a C&D Waste Reduction Clearinghouse website. The database is used by applicants filling out their Act 250 Waste Reduction Plans. It can be used by contractors, builders, and homeowners as well.