Food Waste Problem
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food waste as, "The decreaseRonald Cotterman- Director of Sustainability at Sealed Air Corporation, From Waste to Worth Presentation for FMI/GMA Sustainability Convention December 2010 in wholesome, edible material intended for human consumption, occurring at the end of the food chain (retail and final consumption)." It's estimated that 40%Jonathan Bloom, wastedfood.com of all food produced in the United States is lost or wasted every year. Beyond the food that’s discarded, this loss represents a massive dissipation of the land, water and energy resourcesJonathan Bloom, wastedfood.com used in the agricultural production of our food.
As food waste accumulates in landfills, more and more methaneJonathan Bloom, wastedfood.com is created due to anaerobic (absence of oxygen) decomposition. Methane, a greenhouse gas, has more than 20 times the heat trapping capabilities of carbon dioxide. This means the alarming amount of food waste finding its way into landfills is significantly contributing to the negative effects of climate change. Consider these facts:
- All but 2%Good Magazine Food Waste Video, Good Transparency Food: Waste Not, Want Not of the 30 million tons of food waste ends up in landfills
- Food constitutes the second largestChristine Beling. Project Engineer, The Federal Environmental Protection Agency.Rhode Island News: www.projo.com, article: Environmentalists gather at RISD to hear about food scrap recycling. portion of the waste stream (after paper) and is the largest part that isn’t recycled
Reasons for Food Waste
Food loss arises in every step of the production supply chain, from the growing to the harvesting to the distribution of the food. However, the majority of food waste occurs at retail and consumer purchase stages due to handling as well as in-store and at-home spoilage.
Cost of Food Waste
It’s estimated that food waste occurring at retail and at home accounts for 70% of the $136 billionGood Transparency Food: Waste Not, Want Not Video. Good Magazine, 2009. average annual food loss in the U.S.
- The average American household discards 14% of their food purchasesMother Nature Network, mnn.com, Article: Wasted Food Wastes Water too
- A family of four typically wastes between $1,300 and $2,200 a yearJonathan Bloom, wastedfood.com
- The disposal costs related to U.S. food waste total nearly $1 billion annuallyGood Magazine Food Waste Video, Good Transparency Food: Waste Not, Want Not
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