Food waste is a big problem. In the United States, roughly 30% to 40% of food is wasted each year. Some of this food is wasted before it is ever harvested, while other food is wasted by consumers who throw it away.
Beyond the loss of food, this waste also has significant environmental and climate impacts. To uncover 15 fascinating statistics about food waste, Thistle analyzed numerous reports produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations, and the Food and Drug Administration. These reports reveal metrics ranging from how much food goes to landfills annually to how much water and land are used to produce the food that gets thrown away each year.
Despite these sobering statistics, there are programs and initiatives looking at how to reduce food waste locally and globally. Many restaurants, supermarkets, and other businesses donate their food waste to food banks, where it is redistributed to those in need. Industrial food waste is sometimes repurposed as animal feed. And some households compost their food waste. Still, much of the world’s food waste ends up in landfills, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas. When it comes to food waste, there is still a lot of work to be done.