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The Zero Food Waste Act introduced by Representatives Julia Brownley (CA), Ann McLane Kuster (NH), Chellie Pingree (ME), and Senator Cory Booker (NJ) would advance a core element of the Food Loss and Waste Action Plan. The Act would provide state governments, Native nations, and local communities with an alternative to sending food waste to landﬁlls and incinerators and support building out the nation’s food waste management infrastructure—creating quality new jobs, and significantly reducing GHG emissions.
Before COVID-19, it was estimated 35 million people across America — including 10 million children — suffered from food insecurity. That number is expected to increase to as much as 50 million people in 2021 due to the employment drop and financial fallout from the pandemic. With so many people suffering who need basic amounts of food, why do Americans waste so much of their food abundance? Getting to the bottom of what causes food waste in America is a challenge that traverses the complex landscapes of socioeconomic disparities, confusion, and ingrained beliefs, layered with human behaviors and habits.
Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. EPA estimates that in 2018, about 68 percent of the wasted food we generated—or about 42.8 million tons– ended up in landfills or combustion facilities. By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, we can help businesses and consumers save money, provide a bridge in our communities for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations.
On average, packaging accounts for about 5% of the energy used in the life cycle of a food product making it a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and for some products, the packaging used has an even bigger impact on climate change than the fuel used to ship it to market.
Food loss and waste is a growing problem in our modern society. The amount of food Americans throw away each year is staggering. In 2014 alone, more than 38 million tons of food waste was generated, with only five percent diverted from landfills and incinerators. EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators that any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 21.6 percent of discarded municipal solid waste.