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Are you wasting food?

With World Environment Day this week, food waste is in the news.

LandfillThe U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually.

Some countries waste more food than others, according to the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. The total amount of food wasted in the United States exceeds that of the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, France, and Germany combined.

In addition, the U.N. Environment Programme estimates that global food production uses 70 percent of fresh water and causes 80 percent of deforestation. Food production is also the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and creates at least 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
UNEP’s recently launched Think.Eat.Save initiative is working with groups around the world to develop and coordinate projects to prevent the environmental problems that can result from food loss and food waste.

See the Food Tank’s website for more information on what’s being done to reduce food waste around the world.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are launching a program – called the U.S. Food Waste Challenge – that asks farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and government agencies to reduce wasted food.

Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food. They send more food to landfills and incinerators than any other type of solid waste – 35 million tons – even more than paper and plastic, said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. 

In another program created in 2010, the EPA began working with organizations along the food lifecycle to adopt more sustainable practices. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge provides technical assistance and a tracking system to help organizations to reduce their food waste. 

When food waste is measured, organizations can identify changes that lead to reductions.

For tips for consumers on how to reduce food waste, see EPA’s Food Waste Reduction and Prevention.

Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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