It’s common to throw away the remains of an uneaten sandwich, a container of yogurt that’s a day or two past expiration, or a piece of produce that’s a bit over-ripe. After all, you’re just one person and it’s just one piece of food. But think about that waste multiplied by a family of four, then multiplied by the families on your block, and then multiplied by the neighborhoods in your town. You could easily fill up 100’s of roll off dumpsters full of household food waste.
Consider these food waste statistics:
- 60 million metric tons of food is wasted in the United States each year.
- This wasted food has an estimated value of $162 billion.
- 32 million metric tons of food waste ends up in municipal landfills.
- 1/3 of all the food produced in the world is never consumed.
- In the US, the equivalent of 20 lb. of edible food per person, per month goes uneaten.
But it’s not just the food itself that is wasted in the process. Getting food from the growers to your home also consumes fuel, chemicals, water and land.
- 50% of US land and 80% of freshwater consumed in the US is used in food production.
- Globally, organic matter decomposing in landfills accounts for 7% of the total methane emissions (greenhouse gases) created.
Although there are inefficiencies throughout the food production, storage, and disposal processes that need to be addressed, food waste recycling is a viable and spreading solution for keeping food waste out of our nation’s landfills.
Food Recycling Put Into Practice
At Franklin & Marshall College, a small liberal arts school in Lancaster, PA, environmental sustainability is important. Faced by the sheer amount of waste that the College’s food service department created and disposed of, they decided to develop a food waste recycling program.
The program takes pre-consumer organic waste, mainly kitchen scraps, and transports it from the College to a local dairy, where it is turned into high-end compost, which is then used on the College’s athletic fields. In 2014, the program diverted over 73 tons of food/organic waste from a landfill.
F&M is a participating member of the Pennsylvania Environmental Resources Consortium, which was awarded the EPA’s esteemed Food Recovery Challenge Endorser of the Year for 2014.