USDA and EPA set first-ever national food waste reduction goals
- Representatives from the USDA and EPA announced the first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50% reduction by 2030.
- In order to reach this goal, the federal government will partner with private and public organizations, the private sector, and other local governments to reduce food waste. The aim of the goal is to improve food security, conserve natural resources, and maintain sustainable practices. If reached, the goal will also reduce the amount of food going into landiflls.
- "Let's feed people, not landfills. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations" said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a press release. "Today's announcement presents a major environmental, social and public health opportunity for the U.S., and we're proud to be part of a national effort to reduce the food that goes into landfills."
The USDA and EPA have been preparing for the success of this goal since 2013 when the U.S. Food Waste Challenge was launched. The Challenge created a platform for organizations to share practices on reducing and recycling food waste. After its launch the program rapidly grew, gaining over 4,000 participants by the end of 2014.
"Our new reduction goal demonstrates America's leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, protecting our natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release.
Food waste has been a growing issue in the United States, as approximately 31% — or 133 billion pounds — of overall food supply is wasted. The waste is also affecting the environment, as it is the third largest contributor of methane emissions in the United States. Researchers at the Laboratory of Biological Modeling, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, have even found that food waste accounts for more than 25% of total freshwater consumption.
Organizations such as the Food Waste Reduction Alliance are working to bring the issue to light across the industry. Additionally, many cities and states have proposed solutions at a local level, ranging from food waste bans at the landfill to mandatory composting programs.
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