Skip Navigation

Reducing & Recycling Food Waste at USDA Headquarters

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Office of Operations (OO) Safety, Sustainability and Emergency Operations Division


Michael.Watt, Assistant Administrator, Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training, FSIS 


Reduce the amount of food waste at the USDA Headquarters (HQ). Educate the workforce on the compost process, compostable waste and materials to reduce the amount of waste by increasing recycling.

Currently 2,400 pounds of waste is recycled per week. Increase the pounds of recycled waste to at least 2,520 pounds of waste (increase of 5%) by end of FY2014.

Activity 1

Advertise and educate USDA employees about the newly installed green kitchenette bins, increasing awareness of their availability to employees throughout the headquarters facility. FSIS.

FSIS Green Team will increase awareness through articles, posters, and other education activities. 

Begin May 2013 and continue throughout year.

Activity 2

Create video “The Life of Your Leftovers” illustrating what happens to food waste after it leaves your plate.   FSIS will complete video by December 2013 (revised). 

Arrange for showing of video. Develop schedule for video showings by July 2013 and update periodically with additional showings throughout year.

Activity 3

Purchase 12 additional kitchenette bins for coffee stations to collect coffee grounds.  Purchase by July 2013. Installation of kitchenette bins will be phased in. 

OO will complete all installations by FY 2014.

Activity 4

Purchase a demo composter for composting food waste for HQ garden. The composter will be suitable for household scale composting and used to educate the public and employees about composting food waste at home.

Purchase of demo composter and installation by OO will be completed by July 2013.

Activity 5

Market and demonstrate the composter at the HQ garden. Provide content/materials (both web-based and paper) to USDA employees and the public regarding composting food waste at home. The campaign will include informational articles published USDA-wide, hands on demonstrations in the garden, and “The Life of Your Leftovers” video, as well as a food waste composter demonstration in educational tours of the HQ garden. 

Marketing campaign will begin June 2013 and continue throughout FY14. OO & FSIS.

Activity 6

Publish articles in USDA-wide publications. The articles will cover a range of composting topics, including a current plan for composting, what items are compostable, the compost process, how to compost at home, and the long-term effects of composting.  

Publish first article of the series by June 2013 and then bimonthly articles through FY2014. FSIS.

Activity 7

Expand outreach.  Coordinate with the FSIS Green Team to develop an outreach and education plan to explain how employees can decrease food waste at HQ using the hallway and cafeteria waste collection stations and kitchenette totes. The intent is to use a “train the trainer” model to get the word out on how to divert food waste at USDA HQ to recycle and compost. 

Initiate by October 2013.  FSIS & OO.