An estimated 30 percent (or 67 million tons) of edible food in the United States is wasted at the retail and consumer levels.
About a 1 pound per day, per person is wasted. Fruits and vegetables are most likely to be wasted, followed by dairy, meat, and grains.
Food waste accounts for 15 percent of the total municipal solid waste which includes commercial, residential, and institutional sectors generated in the United States.
The food waste in landfills is converted partly to methane, a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are also emitted in the process of growing, processing, distributing, transporting, retailing, and cooking food that is eventually wasted. A typical American’s annual food waste could account for the emission of more than 12,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is approximately the level of emissions from driving a car for 13,500 miles.
Interventions are categorized into seven types that address individuals’ motivation, opportunity, or ability to reduce food waste. Some interventions may affect more than one of these elements. For example, financial incentives such as paying for food waste by volume rather than a fixed amount can motivate individuals while also providing the opportunity to act.
Click on an intervention below to learn more about what the science tells us.
The committee urges caution in extrapolating the information in this table to generalized statements about the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions, which will depend on many other factors.
The following need to be considered as one designs interventions:
The effectiveness of promising interventions depends on factors related to their implementation such as feasibility, capacity, fidelity to the intervention design, cost, and appropriateness to the settings in which an intervention will be used. Development of interventions should be integrated with research on implementation so that the interventions have meaningful effects.