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In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply. This figure, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need. Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes. Effectively reducing food waste will require cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, communities, and the entire supply chain.
Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a joint agency formal agreement under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. The agreement is aimed at improving coordination and communication across federal agencies attempting to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.
As part of the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, the USDA, EPA and FDA issued its FY2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy in April 2019. The Interagency Strategy identifies six priority areas on which the agencies will focus their efforts to reduce food loss and waste in the US.; The priority areas highlight the importance that collaboration between government agencies and the engagement of leaders in the public, private and non-profit organizations will play in solving this problem.
The full strategy, along with outcomes for each priority area, is available on EPA's website. Below are quick links to each section.
- Overview of Interagency Strategy
- Priority Area 1: Enhance Interagency Coordination
- Priority Area 2: Increase Consumer Education and Outreach Efforts
- Priority Area 3: Improve Coordination and Guidance on Food Loss and Waste Measurement
- Priority Area 4: Clarify and Communicate Information on Food Safety, Food Date Labels, and Food Donations
- Priority Area 5: Collaborate with Private Industry to Reduce Food Loss and Waste Across the Supply Chain
- Priority Area 6: Encourage Food Waste Reduction by Federal Agencies in their Respective Facilities
On April 9, 2019, USDA, EPA, and FDA signed a formal agreement with ReFED, Inc. to collaborate on efforts to reduce food waste in the United States. The agencies and ReFED agreed to develop approaches for measuring the success of food waste strategies, advance data collection and measurement efforts, and to participate as appropriate in the Further with Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste partnership, among other activities.
On October 30, 2019, USDA, EPA, and FDA announced a new partnership with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). Through a Memorandum of Understanding, USDA, EPA and the FDA will formalize industry education and outreach efforts with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association, the three founding partners of the FWRA.
The following are resources to help you do your part to reduce food loss and waste. You play a part in reaching the national food waste reduction goal – to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030 (see U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions Initiative).
Start using these tips today to reduce food waste, save money, and protect the environment.
How to Cut Food Waste and Maintain Food Safety
Learn how food waste and food safety are connected.
Tips to Reduce Food Waste
Learn to reduce food waste at the grocery store or when eating out; in the kitchen while storing and preparing; at home while cooking, serving, and enjoying food with family and friends.
Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods?
In a consumer update, FDA offers advice to help consumers determine if their food is still good to eat while also reducing food waste in their homes.
Food Waste Animated Videos
Check out animated videos that can help you take action to reduce food waste.
Wasted food is a growing problem in our modern society and an untapped opportunity. In 2017 alone, almost 41 million tons of food waste were generated, with only 6.3 percent diverted for composting from landfills and combustion for energy recovery. EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 22 percent of municipal solid waste. EPA works with stakeholders throughout the food system to reduce waste through partnership, leadership and action.
Learn more about Sustainable Management of Food from EPA.
USDA is doing its part to help make preventing food waste the first-best option for farmers, businesses, organizations, and consumers. A large number of USDA programs contribute to this objective, ranging from those supporting market and distributional efficiencies to those educating consumers about safe food storage. Selected new and ongoing activities directly contributing to the reduction of food loss and waste are listed below.
Learn about USDA's Food Waste Activities.