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ZWAC considers adding food donation ordinance to master plan

Monday, November 13, 2017 by Jessi Devenyns

Requiring businesses to divert their food rather than simply compost or recycle is a progressive idea even among those at the Zero Waste Advisory Commission. However, Allen Schroeder, the food donation specialist for Break It Down and the driving force behind the Save the Food Coalition, thinks that Austin should be the first city to require a portion of usable foodstuffs to be donated rather than simply disposed of. “We have 25 percent food insecurity in Austin. Why are we throwing food away? Why are we composting it?” he asked rhetorically at the Nov. 8 commission meeting. According to him, in order to help reduce food insecurity in our city, City Council needs to amend the Universal Recycling Ordinance to require businesses to submit a separate food diversion plan to the city in addition to their recycling and organic waste diversion plans. Currently, food diversion through donation is one of eight optional, equally weighted organics diversion choices for food-permitted businesses. To change this, Schroeder says that a brand-new ordinance must be written because “changing the existing ordinance would be cumbersome.” Commissioner Joshua Blaine expressed his support for the idea. Commission Chair Gerry Acuna said, “In the master plan, there are references to what you are trying to accomplish. I think that would be something that would fit right in with the goals of the master plan.” The commission decided to revisit the idea when it revises its master plan in 2018.

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