A new joint agreement under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative was recently signed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The goal is to increase cooperation and communication between federal agencies in efforts to lower the amount of food that gets wasted.
“An unacceptable percentage of our food supply is lost or wasted,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “As the world’s population continues to grow and the food systems continue to evolve, now is the time for action to educate consumers and businesses alike on the need for food waste reduction.”
Based on figures from the USDA’s Economic Research Service, 30 to 40 percent of the American food supply is wasted and becomes the largest contributing sector for materials ending up in landfills. In 2010 alone, there were an estimated 133 billion pounds of food wasted with a value of approximately $161 billion. Along with the physical food being wasted, there are additional resources such as water, energy, and labor involved in food production that end up being wasted as well.
Educating the public on the severity of the issue is a central component to the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative, but it also involves the cooperation of the grocery sector. The nonprofit organization Refed indicates the retail food sector is responsible for 8 million tons of food waste annually, representing a yearly lost value of an estimated $18.2 billion.
The U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions initiative is one of the many public-private partnerships that are also working to address the issue of food waste. With the new joint agreement between agencies, there is a hope that private organizations and other stakeholders will engage at the federal level to coordinate efforts to reduce food waste.