Dallas -- Imagine 37 million tons of food. Think of how many people that amount could feed, the money it cost to buy, and the resources needed to produce it. Then imagine almost every pound of that sitting in a landfill or incinerator instead of on someone’s dinner table. But it’s not an imaginary scenario: In 2013 alone, Americans threw out over 37 million tons—or 74 billion pounds—of food.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages families, businesses, schools and organizations to reduce this waste with the Sustainable Management of Food program. EPA estimates food is the single biggest category of everyday waste, making up about 21 percent of municipal solid waste. The rest of the world faces a similar problem, with the United Nations estimating about one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted.
All this waste has significant environmental impacts, especially for our climate. When food goes to landfills, it rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide. EPA believes food should feed people, not landfills. As our population grows and threats from climate change continue, the benefits of reducing food waste will multiply.
In September, EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the nation’s first goals to reduce wasted food. Find out more about the goal to cut America’s food waste by half by 2030: http://1.usa.gov/1WgtJRA