Meals Waste and its Hyperlinks to Greenhouse Gases and Local weather Change

Posted by Jean Buzby, USDA Meals Loss and Waste Liaison inMeals and Vitamin
Well being and Security

Jan 24, 2022

Birds fly over a landfill

Meals waste and loss is estimated to be roughly one third of the meals supposed for human consumption in the USA. When meals is discarded, all inputs utilized in producing, processing, transporting, making ready, and storing discarded meals are additionally wasted. Meals loss and waste additionally exacerbates the local weather change disaster with its important greenhouse gasoline (GHG) footprint. Manufacturing, transportation, and dealing with of meals generate important Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions and when meals results in landfills, it generates methane, an much more potent greenhouse gasoline.

The connection between meals loss and waste and local weather change is more and more acknowledged as necessary and so is the hyperlink between local weather change and agriculture and provide chain resiliency. We’re more and more seeing how excessive climate occasions are disruptive to each agriculture and provide chain resiliency.

The U.S. Environmental Safety Company (EPA) printed a report in 2021 on the environmental impacts of meals waste (PDF, 12 MB). EPA estimated that every yr, U.S. meals loss and waste embodies 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equal (million MTCO2e) GHG emissions (excluding landfill emissions) – equal to the annual CO2 emissions of 42 coal-fired energy vegetation. This estimate doesn’t embrace the numerous methane emissions from meals waste rotting in landfills. EPA knowledge present that meals waste is the one commonest materials landfilled and incinerated within the U.S., comprising 24 and 22 p.c of landfilled and combusted municipal stable waste, respectively. The report additionally highlights the advantages of stopping meals loss and waste when it comes to agricultural land, blue water (i.e., freshwater from floor water and groundwater), fertilizer, and power.

Decreasing and stopping meals waste can improve meals safety, foster productiveness and financial effectivity, promote useful resource and power conservation, and handle local weather change, which in flip, may additionally lower local weather change-related shocks to the availability chain.

Learn extra blogs on the subject of meals loss and waste.

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