About Food WasteHave you ever let a piece of fruit grow moldy in your refrigerator, simply because you forgot it was there? Have you ever thrown away a can of soup because it was past the “best by” date stamped on the label? Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the produce in the supermarket that goes unsold, or what your favorite restaurant does with all of their leftovers at the end of the day? Did you know that 40% of the food produced each year in the United States ends up in a landfill or is left to rot in the field.
It’s hard to believe that, in a country where 40 million people face hunger every day, so much food could go uneaten. Yet, this is precisely what is happening – and we’re all partially to blame. Perfectly good food is being wasted at every level of the supply chain: on the farm, during distribution, at the store, and in our homes. In addition to the enormous humanitarian cost, our food waste epidemic is also an economic and environmental catastrophe.
Food is being wasted at every level of the supply chain
The Life Of A Strawberry
The Humanitarian CostAccording to The National Resource Defense Council, if we were able to rescue just 15% of the food we waste each year, we’d save enough to feed 25 million Americans. That’s 60% of the number of the population facing food insecurity. ReFed believes that by implementing food recovery solutions, we could be donating 1.8 billion meals every year to people who are in need. What does it say about us that we’re willing to let millions of pounds of nutritious fruits and vegetables rot when so many people are hungry?
15% Food Waste
By implementing Food Recovery Solutions We Could Be Donating...1.8 Billion MealsEvery Year to People who are in need.
The Economic CostThe financial ramifications of food waste are staggering. According to ReFed, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion, or 1.3% of our gross domestic product, growing, processing, and disposing of food that is never eaten. The USDA estimates that supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables, alone.
Most of the waste, however, is happening in our own kitchens. ReFed’s research shows that 43% of food wasted by weight – 27 million tons every year – occurs at home. In his book American Wasteland, author Jonathan Bloom says that families throw out approximately 25% of the food and beverages they buy. That’s a loss of somewhere between $1,300-$2,200 for the average family of four every year. Expired?
43% of Food Waste Occurs at Home
Expired? Food Waste in America
The Environmental CostEqually troubling is what this absurd amount of waste is doing to our environment. A report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that, in 2007, the carbon footprint of food waste was 7% of all global emissions. A recent study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research showed that more than 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agricultural activities.
What Produces Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Source: University of California Carbon Neutrality Initiative.
When food waste decomposes it releases methane, which is 25X more harmfulthan carbon dioxide.
Speaking of trash, the Environmental Protection Agency points out that most of the material filling our landfills is organic matter, such as food waste. When that material gets buried in the dump, it decomposes anaerobically and releases methane, a greenhouse gas 25x more harmful than carbon dioxide. A report from the United Kingdom’s Food Waste Recycling Action Plan (WRAP) says that if food scraps were eliminated from landfills, the corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of removing 20% of all the cars in the country from the road.
How to Reduce Food WasteClearly, this is a BIG problem. So, the question is: what can we do about it? Obviously, the first thing we want you to do is pledge to donate your food when you move. Share what you can spare with the 1 in 8 Americans who are unsure of where they will find their next meal. Next, learn ways that you can reduce food waste at home. There are a number of simple steps that you can take today.
The scale of the problem, however necessitates much broader action. That means encouraging our fellow consumers, the food industry, and government to make reducing food waste a priority.
We’re facing a massive problem, but we’ve also been presented with an amazing opportunity to produce an aggregate financial benefit to society, divert an enormous amount of waste, reduce carbon emissions, save water, create jobs, and recover millions of meals. We hope you’ll join us in the fight.