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Food Waste Another Threat to the Environment

March 12, 2015
Plain English Version

food waste

People produce all kinds of food waste. And they produce a lot of it. A new report shows that about 60 million metric tons of food is wasted in the United States annually. (A metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds.)

The value of the waste is about $162 billion. About half ends up in city landfills. It costs local government about $1.5 billion a year to manage them.

The report says that a third of all food produced in the world is never eaten. The full cost of the world’s food waste could total $400 billion a year. Billions could be saved if the amount of food waste were reduced.

The food thrown away by retailers and consumers in wealthy nations could feed all of the world’s 870 million hungry people. A family of four wastes about $1,600 worth of food each year. The waste  numbers are all expected to grow unless steps are taken.

The production of food uses vast amounts of water, land and fertilizer. Food waste in landfills creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This gas is about seven percent of total polluting emissions worldwide. Reducing food waste can make a difference.

Composting is one solution. However, there are other ways to reduce food waste. Extending expiration dates will reduce waste. Selling smaller portions of food also will reduce waste.

Changes in the way food products are made may be helpful. One company changed the way it wrapped dough in the shell of its pot pies. That change saved 235 tons of dough a year. An expert said, “We need to find ways to deal with food waste, but we need to prevent it in the first place.”

Source: The New York Times February 25, 2015

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