Environmental Impact of Food Waste in the US

  • Each time food is wasted all the resources that went into producing, processing, packaging, and transporting that food is wasted too. This means huge amounts of chemicals, energy, fertilizer, land and 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that is thrown away.
  • Additionally, most uneaten food rots in landfills where it accounts for almost 25% of U.S. methane emissions. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is 21 times more harmful to the environment than CO2.
  • Getting food to our tables uses 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land,and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States.
  • Only about 3% of food scraps in the U.S. are composted.
  • About 2/3 of household waste is due to food spoilage from not being used in time, whereas the other 1/3 is caused by people cooking or serving too much.
  • 14 percent of greenhouse gases in the United States are associated with growing, manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of food.

Water Comparison

Freshwater is a global resource that is depleting whenever food is wasted. Have a look at these facts about water usage in the production of commonly bought— and in many cases wasted-food items.

  • It takes over 12,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Meanwhile, the largest percentage of food waste from the average American consists of meat products, and 33% ends up in a landfill.
  • The production of one glass of orange juice requires 45 gallons of water. 15% of wasted food from the average American consists of fruit.
  • Wheat consumes about 12 % of the global water use for crop production.
  • Americans waste about 18% of grains.

Global Food Waste

  • About one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste.
  • Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food, 222 million tons, as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Industrialized countries waste 670 million tonnes. Developing countries lose 630 million tonnes. Total lost or wasted globally: 2.3 billion tonnes.
  • The United States is the number one country in the world that wastes food. Close behind are Australia and Denmark, followed by Switzerland and Canada.

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