What is wasted food?
Wasted food is food that doesn’t get eaten but instead gets disposed of in the garbage or down the drain.
Some of this includes inedible parts of produce like cores and stems, but a large amount of it is perfectly edible food that was wasted instead of eaten.
In fact, Americans throw away 40% of the food we grow, and most of that waste occurs in our homes and consumer-facing businesses.
Households make up 37% of wasted food and consumer-facing businesses account for 28%.
While that means individuals are responsible for a lot of food waste, it also means that each of us can make a big impact on the problem by changing how we interact with food at home, when we shop, and when we eat at restaurants.
Where food waste occurs
*Includes: retail, full service restaurants, limited service restaurants, and other food service.
Join The PLEDGE™ on food waste.
Do you work in a restaurant or food business and want to learn about reducing your business's wasted food?
What are the consequences of all this wasted food?
Wasted food hurts the environment.
When food is landfilled, it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to break down properly. Instead, it rots and releases methane—one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
Wasted food has such large climate impacts that Project Drawdown has ranked food waste reduction as one of the single best ways to slow climate change.
Keeping food out of landfills also means we’re not wasting all the precious resources that went into producing it. Throwing food away means throwing away the water, land, labor, and transportation that went into growing that food.
How much landfill space is filled with food?
Food waste makes up 24% of solid waste in landfills in the US (EPA.gov).
Wasted food hurts your wallet.
What would you do with an extra $1,500?
That’s how much the average family of four throws away in food each year. Using up all the food you buy supports a healthy environment AND a healthy bank account.
Wasted food hurts our communities.
1 in 8 Michiganders are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Making sure that food gets to those who need it—rather than ending up in the trash—is an important factor in reducing food waste and supporting our communities.