Within recent years, food waste has reached an all-time high, becoming a prominent environmental and economic issue across the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates nearly 63.1 million tons of food waste were generated in 2018 in the United States alone (U.S. EPA, 2022). This waste not only contributes to the large amount of municipal solid waste landfilled but also to methane emissions and state of food insecurity.
The focus of my research is to gain insight into the patterns in state level adoption of food waste policies. These policies fall into three categories: prevention policy which includes date labeling, recovery policy such as liability protection and tax incentives, and recycling policy including animal feed and organic waste bans and waste recycling laws. Food waste policies exist at all levels of government, each serving their own purpose. For my research however, I focus only on the state level policies as they are the most recent emerging policies enacted to combat food waste.
Quantitative data measuring the outcomes of food waste policy still remain limited. This thesis surveys literature discussing how methods of observing policy outcomes are developed. There is evidence suggesting some food waste policies may not actually be effective resulting in states altering their approach to adopting food waste policy. My thesis will identify factors that affect state policy adoption. As more becomes known about policy outcomes, understanding the factors affecting policy adoption may assist with the process of changing or further developing policies.