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Waste Reduction

Food Waste

Food waste is a part of all the production lines, starting from the farm and continuing through distribution and finally to the consumer. Causes are losses due to pests, mold, or insufficient climate control; the loss of cooking, and intentional food waste. [1]

The waste is classified differently depending on the location where it happens:

“Food “loss” occurs before the food is delivered to the consumer because of problems during the manufacturing, storage, and processing processes.

“Food “waste” refers to food that is suitable to be consumed but is discarded in the retail or consumption stages.

Food waste has a wide-ranging impact worldwide and nationally. Within the U.S., up to 40% of the food that is produced goes unfinished [2], and around 95% of food waste is disposed of in the garbage dumps [3]. It is the biggest part of solid waste generated by municipal sources, with 21 percent. 1 In 2014, over 38 million tonnes of food waste were produced in the United States, but only 5% was recycled in landfills and incinerators to be composted. The decomposition of food waste releases methane, an extremely greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Around the world, one-third of food products are thrown away uncooked, which causes an increase in environmental burden. Cutting down on the consumption of foods by 15 percent could help feed over 25 million Americans each year. [5]

Benefits of Less Food Waste

Cost savings on labor by better handling, preparation, and storage for food items that are to be consumed.

Cost savings by purchasing the quantity of food needed while avoiding the additional cost of disposal.

Methane emissions are reduced from landfills, and there is a smaller carbon footprint.

Improved control of resources and energy to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing, growing, selling, transporting, and distribution of food.

Community benefit is the result of the donation of untouched and healthy food items that would otherwise go out. [6]

Proposed Solutions to Food Waste

The global trend of reducing food waste is being cited as one of the key steps to achieving a sustainable food and nutrition future. Sustainable Development Goal 12 addresses the responsible consumption and production of food. It has two indicators to assess (in the hope of reducing) global loss of food as well as food waste. [7]

In the U.S on June 4 in 2013 on June 4, 2013, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and invited all entities in the food chain to participate, including farmers, agricultural processors, grocery stores, food producers and restaurants as well as universities, schools, and local government.

The Environmental Protection Agency has The “Food Recovery Hierarchy” graphic that explains ways to deal with excess food. The hierarchy is arranged from the most popular at the highest point of the pyramid to the least favored at the bottom. The methods are:

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Jane S. King

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