Food waste in the United States – additional information
Farms, grocery stores, and restaurants are often blamed for creating vast amounts of food waste, where in reality, families and households generate the largest volume of wasted food, totaling some 27 million metric tons in the United States in 2015, which equaled about 144 billion U.S. dollars. A large proportion of food that goes to waste is from perishable items such as fruits and vegetables, which accounted for about 42 percent of waste in 2015. Fruit and vegetables are some of the least expensive, yet, fastest to spoil and thus, often get discarded. On the other hand, seafood and meats are among the most expensive items and are two of the least discarded products.
In one survey, almost half of the American respondents believed that grocery stores could help consumers reduce waste by offering certain food items in smaller quantities. Others believed that offering bulk food bins and incentives to encourage buying things when they are needed could also reduce the production of food waste. Annually, the U.S. sends about 52.4 million tons of food to the landfill and another 10.1 million tons remain unharvested from farms. A significant portion of the unharvested food is due to cosmetic imperfections, but is mostly left on site to be composted. Waste from farms is usually only sent to landfills due to surplus and rejected products from packinghouses. However, only about 10 percent of food waste from consumer-facing businesses and homes are recycled and recovered. Transportation costs for food scraps tend to be disproportionately high and market values for energy and compost end products from scraps are worth less than those garnered from plastics and metals.