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EGLE partners to develop plan to reduce food system waste

Project seeks stakeholders from across Michigan’s food system to solve challenges of waste and carbon emissions

A $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will help reduce Michigan food waste and carbon emissions in line with goals in the MI Healthy Climate Plan.

EGLE’s support will boost work by the nonprofit Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Make Food Not Waste, Center for EcoTechnology, and an advisory council of industry stakeholders and national experts to develop a Michigan Food System Waste Reduction Road Map to inform state and local decision makers of policies and programs that encourage decarbonization by reducing waste in production and distribution in various food sectors.

Michigan disposes of more than one million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year. Food waste is the largest source of material disposed of in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates, 30%-40% of the state’s food supply is lost to waste. The nonprofit Project Drawdown estimates that wasted food is responsible for roughly 8% of global emissions and ranks food waste reduction as the most impactful solution to address climate change.

The MI Healthy Climate Plan – Michigan’s roadmap to a healthy, prosperous, carbon-neutral economy for all Michiganders by 2050 – recommends that Michigan adopt and pursue a joint USDA/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency goal to reduce food loss and waste by half no later than 2030.

The food waste roadmap project will engage stakeholders throughout Michigan’s food system in identifying strategies to guide policymakers on potential incentives, funding mechanisms, technical assistance, outreach, policy changes, and other programs that could be developed to reduce food waste among Michigan businesses and institutions. 

The project team is seeking collaborators to join a series of virtual discussions to develop recommendations for cross-sector solutions. Sessions will present current research and the potential applicability of best practices and policies and will draft recommendations for each interest area. Individuals with experience in food loss or food waste within agriculture, food processing and production, grocery and retail, food service, and transportation and logistics sectors are invited to participate by signing up on the Michigan Sustainable Business Forum website,, or at

Working sessions will focus on the following topics:

  • Production standards: Current date labeling verbiage and utilization and potential universal verbiage and standardization of low-waste and efficient packaging and production protocols.
  • Food donation: Current liability and incentive policies for food donation, technical support needed for constructive donations, and the Michigan food recovery landscape.
  • Waste reduction technologies, practice improvements, employee training: Best practices for waste reduction, including supply chain demand planning, methods for measuring food waste, and barriers to effective employee training and engagement.
  • Secondary markets: Channels for food surplus (such as animal feed and FlashFood); best practices for food measurement and transport; price impact concerns; business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and upcycling programs; and education and communication tools for industry sectors and the public.
  • Infrastructure improvements: Food industry stakeholders’ needs for food collection, processing, storage, and distribution. Resources needed to overcome infrastructure barriers.
  • Community awareness and education: Practices to reach household markets with recommendations, involve industry sectors to lead and educate the community, and innovative ideas and progress in food waste reduction.
Agency collaboration and leadership: Mutually beneficial food system partnerships, how to invite changing perspectives, and how to distribute resources and materials through trusted agencies.

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