The True Costs of Food Waste

Fifty-two million tons of food are wasted by consumers each year, which is over 80% of all U.S. food waste. Food that goes to landfills breaks down in a heap without oxygen, producing methane, a gas with 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. If we were to measure food waste as a country, its emissions would be world’s third largest source of greenhouse gas, after the United States and China.

To address this problem, New York City has taken action, as Mayor de Blasio has committed to sending zero waste to landfills by 2030. It is an important initiative because wasted food costs U.S. consumers $144 billion annually and leads to the emissions problem listed above. Additionally, by wasting food were are missing out an opportunity to salvage healthy and edible materials for families in need. Nearly 17 percent of New Yorkers are food insecure, and that number is even higher among children, with nearly 1 in 4 living in food-insecure homes.

New York has been fairly innovative in the process of “food rescue,” which seeks to salvage edible food and provide it to the New Yorkers that are food insecure. By increasing our focusing on food waste and food rescue, we can limit our impact on the planet and ensure that millions of people receive the food they need to survive. To read more about food waste and New York’s response to this issue, click here.