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Sustainable Management of Food

Reduce Wasted Food by Feeding Animals

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Food Recovery Hierarchy Triangle in Six Steps. Top (most preferred) to bottom (least preferred): Source Reduction, Feed Hungry People, Feed Animals, Industrial Uses, Composting, and Landfill/Incineration.

Source ReductionFeed Hungry PeopleFeed AnimalsIndustrial UsesComposting

Feeding Animals is the third tier of EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy. Farmers have been doing this for centuries. With proper and safe handling, anyone can donate food scraps to animals. Food scraps for animals can save farmers and companies money. It is often cheaper to feed animals food scraps rather than having them hauled to a landfill. Companies can also donate extra food to zoos or producers that make animal or pet food. There are many opportunities to feed animals, help the environment and reduce costs.

Legal Basics

Regulations vary in each state. Some states ban food donation for animal feed. Other states regulate what can be donated (often no meat or dairy). For example, businesses cannot donate coffee grounds and foods high in salt as they can harm animals.

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Donating Food Scraps to Animals

  • Contact your local solid waste, county agricultural extension office or public health agency for information.
  • Determine what types, how often, and the amount of food scraps you can provide.

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Success Stories

Disclaimer of Endorsement: Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University in New Jersey is a leader in keeping food scraps out of the landfill. The dining halls at Rutgers partners with a local farm, Pinter Farms. Pinter Farms collects about one ton of food scraps every day from Rutgers' four main dining halls and feeds it to the farm’s hogs and cattle. Diverting food scraps to Pinter Farms costs Rutgers half the price of sending the scraps to the landfill. View a fact sheet about Rutgers' program.

MGM Resorts International

MGM Resorts International has been reducing wasted food going to landfills since 2007. Many of their food scraps from Las Vegas Strip properties go to RC Farms, a pig farm with 3,000 pigs. RC Farms follows state requirements by cooking food scraps first before feeding them to the pigs. Learn more about MGM Resorts efforts in this article on Biocycle's website Exit.

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