Americans are wasting enough food for 150 million people a year – more than four times the country’s need, as 35 million struggle to access enough nutrition.
In fact, Americans waste more food per person than in any other country, according to a new Environmental Protection Agency report called From Farm to kitchen, the environmental impacts of U.S. food waste.
Although the United States accounts for five per cent of the world’s population, it produces 10 per cent of food loss and waste.
The amount wasted per person has increased over the last decade and the nation’s total food loss and waste has tripled since 1960. This leaves the nation far from on target to meet a commitment it made in 2015 to halve food loss and waste by 2030.
The overabundance of food, which leads to high levels of waste, is expressed in terms of calories available, versus calories consumed, per person.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, up to 4,000 calories of food per person per day is available, although 2,081 calories are consumed.
The waste amounts to using 16 per cent more US land than necessary for agriculture
Reducing food loss and waste is critical to reducing pressure on the environment, while continuing to produce enough food for the world. Already it’s estimated that 20 per cent more land will be needed by 2050.
Currently the amount of food lost and wasted reflects an over-use, or waste of, 16 per cent of agricultural land in the US. It wastes enough water for more than 500 million American homes a year.
It causes the unnecessary use of 350 million kilograms, or 778 million pounds, of pesticides and 6,350 million kilograms, 14 billion pounds, of fertiliser. And it’s over-using enough energy to power more than 50 million US homes.
These figures don’t include the impacts of waste management, such as landfill.
The report says the UK has reduced edible food loss and waste by 27 percent per person, most of which was achieved within four years. And Japan has reduced household food loss and waste 13 percent in four years, achieving most of that progress in just one year.
Prevention of waste rather than recycling is clearly the best way to protect the environment, it says.