How much food is wasted in America?
Just how much food do Americans waste? Here’s some “food” for thought: While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply, and equates to 219 pounds of waste per person. That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average sized apples right into the garbage — or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there. In fact, food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills, making up 22 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW).
Before COVID-19, it was estimated 35 million people across America — including 10 million children — suffered from food insecurity. That number is expected to increase to as much as 50 million people in 2021 due to the employment drop and financial fallout from the pandemic.
More than 80 percent of Americans discard perfectly good, consumable food simply because they misunderstand expiration labels. Labels like “sell by”, “use by”, “expires on”, “best before” or “best by” are confusing to people — and in an effort to not risk the potential of a foodborne illness, they’ll toss it in the garbage.