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Don't Waste Food S.C.

Don't Waste Food S.C. is a collaborative campaign that is actively bringing together partners from across the public and private sector to help reduce food waste in the state. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the economic, environmental and social impacts of food waste and empower individuals, businesses and communities to take action through outreach, education and technical assistance centered on:

  • prevention,
  • donation
  • and composting.

Food Recovery Initiative

The initiative aims to help the state and meet or exceed the national goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030. 

The  Food Recovery Initiative is a community collaborative component of Don't Waste Food S.C.. It is a group of public and private stakeholders, such as the S.C. Department of Agriculture, Harvest Hope Food Bank and Loaves & Fishes, who are dedicated to working together to help South Carolina reduce its food waste.
Stakeholders include food banks, food rescue organizations, faith-based communities, grocery stores and other retailers, food manufacturers, restaurants and hospitality facilities, composters, haulers, local and state governments.

For more information or to get involved, please email dontwastefoodsc@dhec.sc.gov.

Campaign Partners

The Don't Waste Food SC/Food Recovery Initiative is a group of public and private stakeholders dedicated to working together to help South Carolina reduce food waste and meet or exceed the national goal of cutting its food waste in half by 2030. The initiative is designed to increase awareness of the economic, environmental and social impacts of food waste through outreach, education and technical assistance centered on prevention, donation and composting. Stakeholders include food banks, food rescue organizations, faith-based communities, grocery stores and other retailers, food manufacturers, restaurant and hospitality facilities, composters, haulers, local and state governments.

Wasted Food Adds Up

Food waste is the top item thrown away by Americans accounting for 21 percent (35.2 million tons) of the nation's waste in 2013 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. South Carolina produced an estimated 607,000 tons of food waste in fiscal year (FY) 2015 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015).

It is estimated that as much as 40 percent of all the food grown and processed nationwide is never eaten – a loss valued at more than $160 billion annually according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While food waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the supply chain, a large portion is generated by consumers. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that on average each American discards about 20 pounds of uneaten food every month worth $28 - $43.

In September 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation's first food waste reduction goal to cut food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Americans discard about 20 pounds of uneaten food every month worth $28 - $43.

Benefits of Food Waste Reduction

Feeding people, not landfills. Did you know that one in six Americans live in food insecure households? Food donation is a great way to provide surplus food to those who need it.

Feeding the economy
Organics recovery is an emerging market area that is growing in South Carolina that is creating new jobs and businesses for food waste haulers and composting facilities. For every million tons of composted material, 1,400 jobs are created.

Conserving resources
Did you know that throwing away one egg wastes 55 gallons of fresh water? Preventing food waste prevents wasted water, energy and land used to make the food. The growing, processing, packaging and transporting of food uses significant amounts of water, energy, resources, time and money – all lost if the food is not consumed.

Returning nutrients to the soil.
 
If you cannot prevent, reduce or donate – compost. Sending food waste to a composting facility or composting at home can  improve soil health and structure, increase water retention, support native plants and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.     

Saving money
An average family of four wastes $1,500 a year on food that is thrown away. Making it easier to prevent food waste can save families and businesses money through smart purchasing, improved food preparation and storage practices as well as lower energy and disposal costs.

Reaching recycling goals
Preventing food waste helps reduce the state’s per capita waste and can help S.C. achieve its recycling goal of40 percent by 2020.

Reduce Food Waste at Home

While food waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the supply chain, a large portion is generated by consumers. The average family of four spends $1,500 on food that is thrown away each year. There are many simple actions that you can take at home to reduce the amount of food – and money – you throw away.

Prevent: Shop smart, prep smart and store smart.

Sourcing: buy local.

Donate
Give what you won't use to a local food bank. Visit S.C. Food Bank Association to find a food bank near you.

Compost
If you end up with wasted food, you can recycle what you don't eat. Compost is a free fertilizer and mulch you can make in your own backyard. To get started composting at home, check out our residential composting guide or fact sheets on composting and grasscycling. Learn More

Food Labels Explained

Use by. Sell by. Best if used by.

Date labels are confusing and can lead to needlessly throwing away good food. With the exception of infant formula, they pertain to product quality, not food safety. Learning the difference between "sell-by", "use-by" and "best-by" dates is a great first step toward storing smart. Use this guide as a quick reference:

  • A sell-by date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires, but you can still store it at home for some time beyond that date as long as safe storage procedures are followed.
  • A best if used by (or before) date is recommended for the best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • A use by date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. This date has been set by the product manufacturer.
  • Closed or coded dates are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides more information on food dating.

What Businesses Can Do

From over-purchasing and over-production to preparation and plate waste, the food service industry is a significant source of the food waste that gets sent to the landfill. Food producers, retailers and restaurants can save money, reduce their environmental impact and feed hungry people by taking action to reduce food waste.

Waste reduction
Waste reduction should be the first priority for minimizing food waste for food service operations. Start with the following tips and guidance on reducing food waste:

Donation
Donation helps those in need while contributing to your bottom line. The resources below provide important information and best practices for donating food from foodservice establishments.

The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. The legislation offers protection for these donors from liability when donating food in good faith.

Composting
Composting keeps food waste out of the landfill and creates a nutritive soil-amendment for gardening or landscaping. Composting also can save you money by reducing your disposal costs as well as your water and perhaps fertilizer usage. To learn more visit Compost it. Don't Waste it.

Technical Assistance Available
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control provides free, confidential technical assistance to businesses through two key programs. The S.C. Smart Business Recycling Program and the Green Hospitality Program are designed to help businesses and hospitality facilities reduce their environmental impact.

Food Donation Liability

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed to encourage companies and organizations to donate food and groceries to non-profits for distribution to individuals in need. The legislation:

  • Protects donors from liability when donating to a non-profit organization;
  • Protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;
  • Standardizes donor liability exposure. Donors and their legal counsel do not need to investigate liability laws in 50 states; and
  • Sets a floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. According to the new law, gross negligence is defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person."

Harvard Food Law and Policy Center and University of Arkansas also have additional information on food donation legislation. Information on this legislation as well as possible tax deductions for businesses is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, South Carolina law provides liability protection for food donors through S.C. Code of Laws §§ 15-74-10 et seq.
According to the law, "the donor, in good faith, of distressed food apparently fit for human consumption, to a bona fide charitable or nonprofit organization or food bank or prepared and perishable food program for free distribution, is not subject to criminal penalty or civil damages arising from the condition of the food or the nature or condition of the land entered, unless an injury is caused by gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the donor."