3 strawberries, 1 has mold

Enacted in 2019, a primary objective of the New York State Food Donation & Food Scraps Recycling Law (the “Act”) is to regulate and promote the diversion of organics (wasted food, yard waste, biosolids, food processing waste, etc.) from disposal to beneficial uses.

Effective January 1, 2022, businesses that generate an annual average of two tons of wasted food per week or more must:

  • Donate excess edible food to the maximum extent practicable; and
  • Recycle all remaining food scraps if they are located within 25 miles of an organics recycler (composting facility, anaerobic digester, etc.).

“Excess edible food” means edible food that is not sold or used by a designated food scrap generator and is still safe to be consumed but is being disposed of by the generator, but shall not include unpackaged fresh meat, fish or poultry, food damaged by pests, mold, bacteria or other contamination, food subject to governmental or producer recall due to food safety and food returned to a supplier.


Large generators of food scraps (more than 2 tons of wasted food and food scraps per week on average).  Examples: Restaurants, grocery stores, hotels & motels, colleges & universities, malls, event centers, etc.


Large generators of food scraps must:

  • Separate and donate edible food
  • Separate and recycle all remaining food scraps if within 25 miles of an organics recycler


  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities
  • K-12 schools
  • Food scraps generators located in New York City
  • Large generators of food scraps may petition the Department for a one-year waiver due to undue hardship

A list of food waste generators subject to the Act was published by NYSDEC on June 1, 2021. The list is organized into the following sectors and can be found at the link provided below:

• Colleges & Universities

• Correctional Facilities & Jails

• Grocery & Specialty Food

• Hospitality

• Restaurants, both full and limited service

• Supercenters

• Other Generators:

  • Amusement & Theme Parks
  • Casinos & Racetracks
  • Malls
  • Military Bases
  • Sporting Venues
  • Wholesale & Distribution


Food Scrap Generator Obligations

  1. separate excess edible food for donation for human consumption to the maximum extent practicable;
  2. each designated food scraps generator that is within twenty-five miles of an organics recycler, to the extent that the recycler has capacity to accept all of such generator’s food scraps;
  3. separate remaining food scraps from other solid waste;
  4. ensure proper storage for food scraps on site which shall preclude such materials from becoming odorous or attracting vectors;
  5. have information available and provide training for employees concerning the proper methods to separate and store food scraps;
  6. obtain a transporter that will deliver food scraps to an organics recycler, self-haul its food scraps to an organics recycler, or provide for organics recycling on-site via in vessel composting, aerobic or anaerobic digestion or any other method of processing organic waste that the department approves by regulation; and
  7. Submit an annual report to the department on or before March 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, in an electronic format. The annual report must summarize the amount of edible food donated, the amount of food scraps recycled, the organics recycler or recyclers and associated transporters used, and any other information as required by the department.

The full text of the newly adopted NYSDEC regulations that implement the Act may be found at: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/adoptedpart350.pdf

Kevin C. Murphy is a member of the Wladis Law Firm, P.C., located in Syracuse, New York. Should you have questions regarding the Food Donation and Food Scraps Law or the applicability of environmental law obligations or impacts on you, your business or your property, please feel free to contact Attorney Murphy or Attorney Timothy Lambrecht of the Wladis Law Firm.

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Kevin C. Murphy

Kevin C. Murphy concentrates his practice in the areas of environmental compliance and litigation; environmental and white-collar criminal defense, and complex litigation matters. Mr. Murphy is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a former senior trial attorney with both the Kings County (NY) District Attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section in Washington, D.C. He previously taught a seminar on environmental criminal enforcement at the Syracuse University School of Law and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America.

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