national food loss

June 13, 2024

SCS Engineers Organic Composting
Organic Composting is Part of the National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics.


National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics

Joint efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aim to reduce waste, increase recycling of organics, reduce climate pollution, save families and businesses money, while building and supporting a circular economy for all .

The strategy highlights four objectives: 
Objective 1: Prevent food loss.
Objective 2: Prevent food waste.
Objective 3: Increase the recycling rate for all organic waste.
Objective 4: Support policies that incentivize and encourage the prevention of food loss and waste and organics recycling.

“Each year, too much food produced in the United States ends up in landfills instead of on dining room tables. This hurts our economy by raising the cost of food and contributing to climate pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics we are announcing today provides a comprehensive set of actions that it will take to reduce waste and protect our environment while improving food security and saving money for families and businesses.”

The Environmental and Economic Impact of Food Waste

Recent EPA research shows that 58% of methane emissions released to the atmosphere from landfills are from food waste. Each year in the U.S., food loss and waste create potent greenhouse gas pollutants equal to the emissions of 60 coal-fired power plants. The strategy aims to prevent and divert organic waste from landfills to reduce GHG emissions and highlights opportunities, especially where there are environmental justice concerns, to build community-scale organics recycling infrastructure, reduce pollution and create jobs.

  • In the U.S., more than one-third (nearly 100 million tons per year) of the municipal waste stream is organic waste, of which food is the majority. Wasting food impacts the climate, releases air pollutants, contributes to water scarcity and biodiversity loss, and degrades soil and water quality.
  • One-third of all available food goes uneaten. (USDA)
  • 24% of municipal solid waste in landfills is food waste. (EPA)
  • Globally, food loss and waste represent 8% of anthropogenic GHG emissions (4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually). (United Nations)
  • 58% of methane emissions released to the atmosphere from municipal solid waste landfills is from food waste. (EPA)
  • In the U.S., the average family of four spends $1,500 each year on food that ends up uneaten. (USDA)

The strategy drives progress toward the National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal to reduce the loss and waste of food by 50% by 2030. In 2021, EPA updated its U.S. baseline to align the 2030 goal with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, which aims to reduce the amount of food from food retail, food service, and households that have been removed from the human supply chain. In addition, this goal supports the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. Because methane is both a powerful GHG and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions in food loss and waste would have a rapid and significant effect on reducing GHG emissions.

Funding and Grant Programs

In addition to the release of this national strategy, EPA is funding projects announced at the end of 2023 for nearly $200 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding through the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling program, as well as Recycling Education and Outreach grants, which is the largest federal investment in recycling in 30 years.

Additional Resources and Articles for Businesses, Solid Waste Departments, and Environmental Agencies



Posted by Diane Samuels at 1:41 pm