The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture’s food-waste-reduction goal is to cut food waste by 50 percent by 2030. Many food banks and food-recovery programs across the nation are working hard on the problem. But a cornucopia of other institutions are also doing their best to rescue food before it’s wasted. Below is just a sample. (Read our special report on food waste, "Spoiler Alert: You're Wasting 1 in 4 Bags of Groceries.")

Celebrities and Entertainment

Nascar. Through its Nascar Green program, zoomed into the food-recovery movement by encouraging food donations and composting at many of its events at racetracks around the country.

John Oliver. Devoted a segment of his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” to food waste. The YouTube video has gotten more than 6.3 million views as of mid-July 2016.

Dan Barber. Executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, transforms food scraps into upscale dishes to show that even what’s usually considered waste can be tasty.

Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. Hired Elizabeth Meltz as director of food safety and sustainability for their many restaurants. She created recycling and composting programs, and a system that tracks food waste to save money and food.


France. The first country in Europe to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. French law also bars supermarkets from deliberately ruining food to prevent it from being foraged from dumpsters.

Seattle. Like other progressive cities including San Francisco, Seattle mandates composting and has proposed issuing fines to businesses and residences if garbage contains items that should be composted or otherwise recycled.

Annual Food Waste of a Family of Four

food recovery infograhic

Restaurants and Supermarkets

Starbucks. Formed Starbucks FoodShare with two food-rescue groups, and all 7,600 of its company-operated stores will donate unsold food to food banks.

Walmart. Received permission from the USDA to repackage intact eggs from cartons in which only one was broken, preventing 37 million eggs from being thrown away per year.

Giant Eagle. The 420-store supermarket chain based in Pennsylvania partners with local farms to package “ugly” fruits and vegetables under the Produce with Personality label, selling them at 20 stores in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Daily Table. A not-for-profit grocery store in a low-income Boston neighborhood, founded by a former president of Trader Joe’s, recovers food from growers, supermarkets, and distributors, and sells it at a deep discount.

Transport Companies

Move for Hunger. Teams up with moving companies to pack and pick up nonperishable food items that home­owners leave behind. The food ends up at local food banks.

Compost Cab. Based in Washington, D.C., it picks up bins of food scraps from homes, schools, and businesses, and delivers them to urban farms for composting. The organic-rich dirt is made available at farmers markets or delivered back to homeowners.

Food Cowboy. Uses a mobile app to divert truckloads of fresh, wholesome food that, for various reasons, has been rejected on loading docks to nearby charities and food banks.

Schools and Food Service

University of Texas at Austin. Audited food waste in its dining halls and after seeing how much was tossed, began allowing students to sample food before taking an entire serving. And like some other universities, had the cafeterias go trayless, which drastically cut food waste because ­students take only what they can carry.

Chesterbrook Elementary School. Students at this school in McLean, Va., learn how to separate uneaten food waste into recyclables, food that can be donated, things that can be upcycled or reused, and general trash. Sixth-graders on the Eco Team police the project.

Compass Group. A food-service group that serves 8 million meals per day in schools, hospitals, and other institutions, it launched Imperfectly Delicious Produce, which buys “imperfect” produce from farmers for use in its prepared foods.

Weight of What's Wasted in the U.S.

food recovery infographic

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.