The Economic Benefits of Reducing Food Waste

According to a new report, for every dollar spent on reducing food waste, companies save an average of $14. The study analyzed food reduced through refrigeration and more efficient packaging to extend shelf-life. Issues of food waste are critical to addressing environmental and equity issues.

Water, energy and fuel used in the growth, storage, and transportation of food are all wasted if the produce is thrown out. These issues are especially relevant in the United States given the concerns about drought in California. Further, when food is wasted it often ends up in landfills, where it contributes to Greenhouse Gas emissions and lower quality of health for those situated near the landfills. Preventing food from going to landfills is one key way that average businesses and consumers can reduce their environmental impact and is one of the main initiatives in New York’s Zero Waste program.

Between 2007 and 2012 Britain cut household food waste by 21 percent due to an awareness raising campaign that stimulated the use of resealable salad bags and zip-lock cheese packs, the study said. This campaign resulted in over $8 billion in reduced costs for consumers and businesses. Given that over a third of food produced worldwide is never consumed because of spoilation during travel, these programs can significantly reduce environmental impacts, consumer pricing for healthy foods, and generate profit for food producers.