Food waste occurs when nutritious food is lost or disposed of.
Around 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally per year. This is equivalent to 200 million African elephants or 13,400 Nimitz Class aircraft carriers.
Food loss occurs at every single stage of the food production and distribution process.
Feed America states that $218 billion worth of food is thrown away each year
21% of landfill volume consists of food waste
72 billion pounds of food is lost each year and ends up in landfills/gets incinerated
Here is a new positive term for you- Food Recovery.
Food Recovery is an approach that seeks to address and reduce wasted food over its entire lifecycle. It prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery hierarchy focuses on different tactics to manage wasted food.
So let’s break down this table and dive into the ways we can be apart of Food Recovery.
These options are ranked from the most preferred, which is source reduction, to least preferred, landfill incineration.
Source Reduction- At the top of the chart we have Source Reduction. This is simply reducing the volume of surplus food generated. As easy as it is to waste food, it’s just as easy to start source reducing! Simple things like creating grocery lists, creating inventories in your business, or even buying less overall. Not only will your wallet enjoy it, but these small changes create huge impacts.
Feed Hungry People- Donate any extra food to any food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. By donating you are feeding people, not landfills. You are also supporting your local community and saving money.
Feed Animals- This is right in the name, diverting your scraps to animals. Food scraps to animals can save farmers and companies money. Companies can also donate extra food to zoos or producers of pet food. Ensure that you handle your food properly and contact your local solid waste or agriculture extension office.
Industrial Uses- The fourth tier of the Food Hierarchy is all about using food to power your car and generator. Sounds crazy? It’s 100% doable. There are many industrial uses of fats, oil, grease, and more!
Composting- This is a tier that is easily accessible to everyone. Composting your food not only nourishes the soil but is an efficient way to handle wasted food. In 2015, Americans recovered 23 million tons through composting.
Landfill/Incineration- The bottom of the totem poll- and for a great reason. This is the last resort for waste disposal and extremely harmful to the environment.
Ways you can reduce food waste
Get to know your freezer- Freezing food items is a great way to save them for the long haul. If you don’t think your gonna eat your fruit in time- freeze it and throw it in a smoothie later!
Try keeping your fridge clutter free- Overly full fridges can be detrimental to food waste. Make sure your fridge is not overly stocked so you can eat everything that you buy!
Don’t toss ugly foods- Just because an Apple has a dent does not mean that it’s no good! Tons of food goes to waste at grocery stores and in kitchens because we look for picture perfect fruits and vegetables. This means that grocery stores only purchase the best looking fruits and vegetables, so lots of food is wasted!
There are many ways that you can reduce food waste and start your food recovery process. But, the most important step is being aware.
Be aware of how much food is wasted each year and the small things we do on a daily basis that contribute.
Thank you for reading and lets start this food recovery process!