Wasted Food = Wasted Resources

When food is wasted, so are all of the resources that went into producing it—land, labor, water, fuel, and energy.

Did you know?

  • Between 35-40% of food produced in the United States goes to waste. Source: EPA

  • If we saved just 25% of the food currently wasted, it would be enough to feed all food insecure Americans. Source: EPA

  • The average family of four spends $1,500 per year on uneaten food. Source: NRDC

Food Waste By the Numbers

Every year in the United States, wasted food consumes:

5.9 trillion gallons

5.9 trillion gallons of freshwater

14% of all freshwater use

140 million acres

140 million acres of cropland

18% of all cropland

35.3 million tons

35.3 million tons landfilled

24% of landfill space in the U.S. Source: ReFed

Where Does Food Waste Happen Within the Food System?

In the United States, loss and waste occur at each stage of the supply chain, with the majority happening at consumer-facing businesses and in homes. Food waste is systemic in nature, and what happens at one stage is often influenced by something that happens at another stage, either upstream or downstream. Surplus food breaks out across the supply chain as follows:

Wasting Food Feeds Climate Change

When food waste rots in landfills, it emits methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world. Source: CalRecycle

Solutions Are Everywhere

The scale at which food waste is happening is shocking. Fortunately, solutions have been identified across the food system that hold potential to significantly reduce our food waste, both at home and at food businesses.

Residents, business owners, nonprofit leaders, and elected officials are all rallying to advance our community’s efforts toward reducing wasted food.

This graphic comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org), a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen local economies and redirect waste into local recycling, composting, and reuse industries. It is reprinted here with permission.
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Craving more information?

As a part of the San Diego County Food Vision 2030 initiative, San Diego Food System Alliance wrote a detailed 20-page report about challenges and strategies for scaling up food waste prevention, recovery, and recycling initiatives in San Diego County.

Read The Report
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