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Going Green by Reducing Food Waste

Posted by Dr. Elise Golan, Director for Sustainable Development, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Conservation Food and Nutrition
May 30, 2013

At this very moment, an underappreciated tool for combating climate change may be hiding in your chiller drawer or at the back of your pantry.  By keeping that limp carrot or dusty box of pasta out of our nation’s landfills, you can help reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills (accounting for over 20% by weight) and that that landfills are the third largest source of methane (16% of national total).  By reducing the amount of food we toss into the trash, we can help reduce these potent greenhouse gas emissions.

The benefits do not stop there, however.

When we reduce food waste by donating excess wholesome food to soup kitchens and food banks, we help to put food on the table for people in need.

When we reduce food waste by recycling food waste to animal feed, composting, or energy generation, we free up resources for other uses and help improve the nation’s soil and carbon stock.

To help spur the reduction, recovery and recycling of food waste in the United States, USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge on June 4th.

By working together, we can reduce the amount of food that is sent to our landfills and help combat climate change.  Learn more about the U.S. Food Waste Challenge at