Food waste in America in 2021:

Statistics + Facts

With employees working from home, students finding out remotely, and also people notified takeout to support their local restaurants, food bills skyrocketed1 as households spent much more time – and also ate more meals – in ~ home. In the united States, the rise in food spending often translates to more food waste. Even prepandemic, us wasted huge quantities that food every single day the the year.

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Food take away up much more space in united state landfills than anything else.17


The Facts about Food Waste

How much food is wasted in America?

Just how much food execute Americans waste? Here’s some “food” for thought: if the human being wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food2 every year, the United says discards much more food than any type of other nation in the world: almost 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year.3 That’s approximated to it is in 30-40 percent the the whole US food supply,4 and also equates come 219 pounds that waste every person.5 That’s favor every human in America throwing more than 650 averagesized apologize right right into the rubbish — or rather right into landfills, as many discarded food end up there. In fact, food is the solitary largest component taking up an are inside united state landfills,6 making up 22 percent the municipal solid waste (MSW).7

Globally, we waste about 1.4 billion loads of food every year.15


Why execute we waste so lot food?

Before COVID-19, it was approximated 35 million people across America — including 10 million kids — endured from food insecurity.8 that number is expected to boost to as much as 50 million people9 in 2021 due to the employment drop and also financial fallout from the pandemic. Through so many human being suffering who need simple amounts that food, why do Americans waste so much of your food abundance? gaining to the bottom of what causes food garbage in America is a challenge that traverses the complicated landscapes that socioeconomic disparities, confusion, and ingrained beliefs, layered with person behaviors and also habits. Food spoilage, whether genuine or perceived, is among the greatest reasons human being throw the end food. Much more than 80 percent10 of americans discard perfectly good, consumable food simply since they misunderstand expiration labels. Labels like “sell by”, “use by”, “expires on”, “best before” or “best by” are confusing to world — and in an effort to not threat the potential that a foodborne illness, they’ll toss the in the garbage.

More than 80 percent of american discard perfectly an excellent food due to the fact that they misunderstand expiration labels.19

Compared come the rest of the world, food in the United says is plentiful and less costly, and often this contributes to a basic sentiment of not appreciating or valuing the the method other communities about the world do.

Americans are often impulsive in their food purchases, unrealistically assessing how much food is required, and also as a result buying more food 보다 they require or purchase food they won’t in reality eat.

Our take-out culture doesn’t use food in its whole the means our ancestors offered to. We underutilize leftovers and also toss food scraps that have the right to still be consumed or composted.

Composting isn’t component of ours food-prep routine, so we continue to add fuel come the fire in increasing the sheer dimension of us landfills.

Americans discard an ext food than any other country, practically 40 million lots — or 30-40 percent that the whole US food supply.16
Changing the regulations to curb so much waste

The great news is that numerous states throughout the nation are taking activity to curb food waste and also gain food recovery. Legislators in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, new York, Rhode Island, and Vermont have passed laws11 that restrict the quantity of food garbage going come landfills. Vermont’s “Universal Recycling Law” walk into result in July 2020, banning food scrap rubbish entirely. Follow to the vermont Foodbank, together a result of the new law, food donations statewide have increased 40 percent.

There is pending law in California, Colorado and also Massachusetts the would develop programs to fund private-sector composting and also organic collection programs.8 In addition, several states favor Tennessee and Washington, and cities choose Los Angeles and Madison, Wisconsin, have created food rubbish task forces to reduce waste, developing composting education and infrastructure and eliminating food rubbish from us landfills.

In 2019, the new York City department of Sanitation expanded upon their organics separation rules, proposing the even much more food-related businesses would be compelled to different organic garbage in an effort to keep practically 100,000 lots of wasted food the end of landfills each year.

The city and state initiatives are trickling into US school systems also — both Maine and Rhode Island have introduced law to minimize the quantity of food garbage in schools. Top top a nationwide level, the united state Department of agriculture (USDA) and the US eco-friendly Protection company (EPA) set a score in 2015 to alleviate food garbage by fifty percent by 2030.

Before the pandemic, 35 million people throughout America had food insecurity. That number is meant to climb to as much as 50 million in 2021.18


Wasting food has ecological repercussions…

While the food waste movement throughout America is getting momentum, it demands to choose up speed to help tackle among the globe’s many pressing problems: climate change. Wasting food has actually irreversible ecological consequences: the wastes the water and energy it took to create it, and also generates greenhouse gases — 11 percent the the world’s emissions—12 prefer methane, carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, which add to an international warming. Food that sits disk in landfills additionally produces nitrogen pollution, which reasons algae blooms and dead zones. According to the human being Wildlife Federation, the production of wasted food in the United states is tantamount to the greenhouse emissions that 37 million cars. If Americans continue on the same course of food loss, the environmental impact could it is in disastrous.


…and economic repercussions too

If to reduce food insecurity and also saving the planet aren’t enough to inspire action to minimize food waste, possibly one more great reason will: money. According to the nonprofit organization Feeding America, american waste more than $218 billion annually on food, through dairy commodities being the food item us toss the end the most. The average American family of four throws out $1,600 a year in produce. 10 Multiply the by the common 18 years the a child resides at home and also you can easily pay because that a year’s precious of tuition at any variety of America’s private colleges or universities.

Wasting food contributes to 11 percent the the world greenhouse gas emissions.20

Solving the increasingly farming problem the food waste calls for upstream solutions that destruction deep right into the source of the problem. The root is complex and multifaceted, v waste coming an initial from America’s dwellings (43 percent) and also restaurants, grocery store stores and also food business companies (40 percent), where civilization throw out food, followed by farms (16 percent) and also manufacturers (2 percent), where too lot food is produced.13


Confronting Waste and also Solving the difficulty at Home

So how do us tackle food rubbish in America? The challenge isn’t to develop less food, yet to waste much less in the process. Here’s how we deserve to start:

Don’t misinterpret expiration brand on food it is perfectly an excellent to eat.

The grocery store Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and Harvard college have an unified to streamline expiration labels around the quality and safety the food. Two phrases simplify exactly how you deserve to tell what’s still good to consume:

best IF provided BY explains quality “where the product might not taste or do as expected yet is safe to consume”;

usage BY applies to “the few products that are highly perishable and/or have actually food safety concern over time.”14

Learn how to compost to keep food scraps out of landfills, and also the lot of greenhouse gases native rising.
Freeze food the can’t be consumed immediately, but could be spend at a later on date.Share the wealth.

Donate food come food pantries or provide leftovers to people who may need it. Arrangement meals and also make intentional grocery save shopping lists. Fruits and veggies through blemishes and flaws quiet taste the same and also are commonly a fraction of the cost. In enhancement to conserving food, you’ll conserve money in the long run. Adopt imperfect produce.

Plan meals and also make intended grocery store shopping lists.

Fruits and also veggies through blemishes and flaws still taste the same and also are commonly a portion of the cost. In addition to conserving food, you’ll conserve money in the lengthy run. Adopt imperfect produce.

Reducing the Waste at America’s Restaurants

According to the bureau of job Statistics, the mean American household spends more than $3,000 a year on eat out. This not just requires one astonishing amount of plastic packaging and utensils, but it additionally produces a the majority of wasted food. The restaurant industry spends an approximated $162 billion annually in costs related come wasted food.12 Pioneers in the recycling sector are making great strides, however there is still an ext we have the right to do to make progress.


Be thoughtful and deliberate when eating out.

Recognize that section sizes differ and order just what you understand will it is in eaten. If you finish up through leftover food – and this happens often with today’s substantial American food – take it it residence to share with someone rather or to enjoy for an additional meal the next day.

If girlfriend really desire to be environmentally conscientious, lug your very own containers come take house leftover food. You will do it be doing your part in reduce the 150 million lots of single-use plastic the we usage – and discard – every year. 13

Reconsider the “all-you-can-eat” buffet-style restaurant model — and mindset.

It prompts civilization to take it out an ext food than they can possibly eat, and also that food nearly always it s okay mindlessly thrown out after piling a key full.

Follow a global model.

Some countries roughly the world are front of America once it pertains to managing food waste. France, for example, calls for restaurants come donate food the is at threat of gift thrown out, however is still for sure to eat. Cities in Sweden use food rubbish to develop fuel to power public bus transit. In Denmark, you can use an application to uncover restaurants and also bakeries that are around to close and also purchase their staying food at a fraction of the cost.

Reducing Food rubbish in advertisement Businesses

When it pertains to food waste, households and also restaurants no the just contributors; advertisement businesses also include to the cultivation problem.

Fortunately, over there are many businesses that space taking notice. Carriers are innovating new ways to usage food waste together ingredients for other products, setting up food donation plans, or implementing commercial composting programs.

The real Dill, a Denver-based pickle company, developed a Bloody mar mix out of the cucumber water used in make their renowned pickles. Today, the mix is more well-known 보다 the pickles – and also the firm has an even smaller eco-friendly footprint. Similarly, Wtrmln Wtr is a firm that bring away watermelons the would usually be thrown out – and eventually end up in landfill – and also creates a juice out of the melons. Carriers aren’t just developing food and beverage assets – some are taking businesses’ food waste and turning it into brand-new products, prefer Ambrosia who is turning organic waste into a clean spray referred to as Veles.

Companies room innovating new ways to use food waste together ingredients for other products, setting up food donation plans, or implementing advertisement composting programs.

Transforming food that would certainly otherwise it is in wasted right into an upcycled product is just one way in i m sorry commercial businesses deserve to reduce food waste. Over there are opportunities for advertising businesses to donate unused food prefer Sodexo has actually – donating every uneaten food come local neighborhoods in need. These room all program that support the US ecological Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery challenge (FRC), which asks organizations and businesses come “pledge to boost their sustainable food administration practices and also report their results.” Finally, service providers can additionally work through their hauler partner to set up programs to make sure their organics space composted quite than sent to landfill.

Similar to exactly how we can prevent food waste in ~ home, it’s around making sure too lot food isn’t purchased, redirection (or donation) that unused food that would otherwise be wasted, and, setting up composting programs for food scraps the would finish up in landfill.

Food is wasted follow me the whole supply chain


Farming Food Waste

Approximately 30-40 percent of food the farmers around the world produce is never consumed. 21

Between 21 and also 33 percent the water used across US farms is wasted. 22

Food loss in ~ the farm yard level counts on plenty of uncontrollable variables, including the type and top quality of crop, market price and consumer demand.

If there’s no industry for a particular crop, it’s better for the atmosphere for farms to plow the crops earlier into the earth and take a loss prior to harvesting and also packing up food to enter the supply chain. If the chop goes back into the earth, it will aid produce much better soil because that future harvests, yet if the food isn’t consumed, the will most often end up in a landfill publication greenhouse gases.

Manufacturing Food Waste

Human error, consisting of lack of conventional operating procedures and also poor training, is the main reason of food waste at the production level, accounting for much more than 10 percent the food waste.

Food the is linked with a food allergy, such as peanuts or gluten, is frequently wasted because of manufacturing present that have to be run numerous times to produce an allergen-free product.

New product breakthrough creates food waste because of the production procedures that manufacturers have to go v to coordinate correct volumes and also product quality. Grocery keep Food Waste around 30 percent of food in American grocery store stores is thrown away.23 united state retail stores generate around 16 billion pounds the food rubbish every year. 24 Wasted food from the retail sector is valued at about twice the quantity of profit from food sales. 25

Grocery keep Food Waste

About 30 percent of food in American grocery store stores is thrown away. 23 united state retail stores generate around 16 billion pounds of food rubbish every year. 24 Wasted food from the retail sector is valued at around twice the amount of profit from food sales. 25

What is the Food Waste recovery Hierarchy?

There are plenty of ways to alleviate food rubbish in the joined States and around the people — and thanks to the Food restore Hierarchy developed by the US ecological Protection firm (EPA), we have a tiered device that prioritizes prevention and also then diversion the wasted food. Created as an reverse pyramid, the top levels of the hierarchy are most favorable, trickling down to the last phase of waste sent out to landfills. Here’s exactly how the power structure flows:


1. Resource Reduction

This goes ago to the basic lesson the “only take it what friend need.” If us buy and also create much less food, fine throw less out. This is about simply reducing waste by not producing it in the an initial place.

2. Feed Hungry People

Much of the food us throw the end is perfectly edible. Through 50 million civilization expected to experience from food insecurity in 2021 alone, this is unacceptable. Food banks and shelters throughout the country would welcome the food that numerous Americans litter away.

3. Feed Animals

Humans no the only ones who need to be fed — our pets need sustenance too. Those food scraps us toss after dinner every night — that will surely finish up in a landfill — deserve to be saved for feeding farm animals, diverting much more food waste from needlessly gift thrown out.

4. Industrial Uses

Did you know that several of the food you toss have the right to be provided to create biofuel and also bio-products that can power her car? The planet has noted alternative power in the kind of sun and wind. Why shouldn’t our food be however another method to source power?

5. Composting

Near the bottom of the Food rubbish Recovery hierarchy is miscellaneous every single person is capable of doing: composting your food waste. Composting not only prevents your food waste indigenous entering a landfill (and creating even more greenhouse gases), but likewise improves soil and water high quality that in turn, aid future crops grow.

6. Landfill/Incineration

This is the bottom the the Food Waste pecking order — and also the last, final resort come the rubbish that us produce. Avoiding this tier v each and every among us, by avoiding waste in ~ the height of the tier — best where that sourced and where we have the right to make various decisions about how lot we take, buy and create.

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It’s around everyone doing your part, from individuals to big corporations — acquisition responsibility and also making small changes to create coherent sustainable transforms for the planet.