The Effects of Food Waste in America

Living by the adage, “Ignorance is bliss,” is a popular choice as it offers an excuse for a dismissive attitude. However, our food waste epidemic gets more serious every day and more and more people are awakening from their blissful slumber. The facts are indisputable and the problem is larger than an individual family’s contribution to the landfill. Each American home may toss just “a little” food every night but that little bit increases fast. In this article we will discuss the benefits of managing the amount of food we waste and offer a few suggestions to address the issue.

Reducing the amount of food that reaches landfills has significant economic, social and environmental benefits.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduce Methane From Landfills - When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane - a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Landfills are a major source of human-related methane in the United States, accounting for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions.

  • Decrease the Amount of Waste Transferred to the Landfill - 30% of food waste that is washed down the drain through a disposal remains solid. These solids are screened out at the entrance of your water treatment plant and sent to the landfill where it will decompose in the absence of oxygen, creating methane.

  • Reduce Resource Use Associated with Food Production - There are many resources needed to grow food, including water, fertilizers, pesticides and energy. By wasting food, you are also wasting the resources that went into growing it. Approximately 13 percent of greenhouse gases in the United States are associated with growing, manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of food. By reducing the amount of food wasted, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Create A Valuable Soil Amendment - Recycling food waste and turning it into compost has many environmental benefits such as improving soil health and structure; increasing drought resistance and reducing the need for supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Food waste can also be turned into renewable energy and a soil amendment through anaerobic digestion.

  • Improve Sanitation, Public Safety, and Health at Your Facility - Food waste dumped in standard trash cans and dumpsters in the back alley of a home, store or restaurant can generate bad odors and attract rodents or insects. Placing food scraps in a closed, leak-proof, durable and reusable container, and having it frequently emptied for donation or composting can significantly reduce, and even eliminate these problems.

Economic Benefits

  • Lower Disposal Costs - By decreasing the amount of food wasted, businesses pay less to dispose of their trash. Some haulers charge less if the food waste is separated from the trash and sent for composting rather than landfilling.

  • Reduce Over-Purchasing and Labor Costs - By making strides to prevent food waste, businesses can reduce costs by purchasing only the food that will be used or decreasing improperly prepared foods. Additionally, reducing food waste can increase staff efficiency and reduce energy and labor associated with disposing of food.

  • Receive Tax Benefits by Donating Food - By donating wholesome and edible food to food banks or food rescue organizations, businesses can claim tax benefits as well as feed those in need.

Social Benefits

  • Feed People, Not Landfills - An estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. Organizations can donate safe and healthy food to a food bank or food rescue organization and both reduce food sent to landfills and feed those in need.

Making a few minor changes in your everyday life can make a huge environmental, economic and social impact on the amount of food waste produced. Proper meal planning, sharing food with those in need and composting will make a substantial difference. The Food Cycler: Home countertop composting appliance can eliminate your food waste and create a vitamin rich soil amendment in just 3 hours, quietly and without odor, in the comfort of your home.