The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week announced the United States’ first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50% reduction by 2030. The effort is in partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and local, state, and tribal governments. A reduction in food waste will improve overall food security, help to conserve the nation’s natural resources, and help to mitigate the health effects of climate change.
Food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31%—or 133 billion pounds—of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers. It is the single largest component of disposed U.S. municipal solid waste, and accounts for a significant portion of the country’s methane emissions (landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States).
Experts project that reducing food losses by just 15% would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions.
The food waste reduction goal is one of several food loss reduction initiatives announced over the past few years. In 2013, USDA and EPA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, which urges leaders and organizations across the food chain to share best practices on ways to reduce, recover, and recycle food loss and waste. Additional ongoing activities to stem food waste include an app that helps consumers safely store food and understand date labels, manufacturer guidance on donating misbranded or sub-spec food, and research on innovative technologies to make reducing food loss and waste cost effective.