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New Study Measures the ‘Foodprint’ of Food Waste

The Footprint of Food Waste

As you scrape food into the trash, do you ever stop to think about all the resources you’re throwing away along with it? The land it was grown on, the water and fertilizer that helped it grow, the energy used to harvest, store and deliver it?

A new study, by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and Sustainable America, considered these questions by analyzing the resource use associated with our diet, including the portion that gets wasted. Our infographic breaks down the results.

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A Surprising Food Waste Solution

Food scraps in sink

Photo Credit: Louis Abate via Compfight cc

When it comes to disposing of kitchen food waste, nothing beats good, old-fashioned composting. But if you haven’t made the leap yet, there may another way to prevent your food scraps from ending up in landfills. In fact, you may already be using it.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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