Sustainable America Blog

USDA and EPA Set Historic Goal to Cut U.S. Food Waste in Half

Obama Administration Announced US Food Waste Goals

Photo: Andrea Leganza via Flickr

Today is a groundbreaking day in the fight against food waste.

The Obama administration announced the United States’ first-ever food waste reduction goal: Reduce food waste in America by 50 percent by 2030.

To reach this goal, officials from the USDA and EPA said the federal government will be leading a new partnership with the private sector; charitable and faith-based organizations; and local, state and tribal governments. The news was delivered at a press conference in New York City at City Harvest, the country’s oldest food recovery organizations.

“An average family of four leaves more than two million calories, worth nearly $1,500, uneaten each year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our new reduction goal demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in in getting wholesome food to people who need it, protecting our natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.”

In real numbers, reaching the government’s goal would mean cutting in half the more than 133 billion pounds of food that ends up in landfills every year. Even if the United States falls short of that number, diverting just 15 percent of potential food waste to hunger relief would be enough to feed the more than 25 million Americans who struggle with food insecurity each year. Preventing and reducing food waste will also reduce methane emission from landfills and conserve the energy embedded in producing that food in the first place.

Sustainable America joins other food industry leaders in applauding the government for setting this nationwide goal. “We commend the USDA and EPA for their leadership and collaborative focus on this critical issue,” said Jeremy Kranowitz, our executive director, who attended the event. “Sustainable America has a goal to increase food availability by 50% by 2035, and we see reducing the amount of wasted food as a major part of the solution.”

The USDA and EPA will be building on previously launched food waste initiatives. In 2013, they jointly launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a program that asks individuals and groups from every facet of the food system – farmers, producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, government agencies, and consumers – to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. The USDA’s new FoodKeeper app gives consumers advice on how to store food safely. The agency has also provided new guidance to manufacturers on donating food and has conducted research on technologies that can make an impact on food waste.

Today’s news is a call for all of us to find ways to be part of the solution to food waste. To get involved, visit I Value Food, a food waste education campaign we launched this year. It’s a great place to learn about food waste and find ways to reduce it when you are shopping, cooking, and dining out. We also just launched We Value Food, a food-waste reduction program for food service operators. We are making investments in start-ups, like EcoScraps and California Safe Soil, that are developing innovative solutions to food waste issues, and we continue to do on-the-ground work at public events like NASCAR to rescue and recycle food.

Please join us in the fight against food waste. Donate today to help support Sustainable America’s efforts to reduce food waste in America.

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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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