Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a new report – From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste – on the environmental footprint of food loss and waste in the U.S. The report provides estimates for current levels of food loss and waste, and the associated impacts on agricultural land use, water use, energy use, application of pesticides and fertilizers, and of course, greenhouse gas emissions.
The results of EPA’s research are staggering – food loss and waste in the U.S. annually produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 42 coal-fired power plants, uses enough water and energy to supply more than 50 million homes, and requires an area of agricultural land equal to California and New York.
Based on these findings, the report highlights the multitude of benefits that could be achieved by reducing food loss and waste. Specifically, the agency is promoting prevention solutions, in line with its new definition of food waste that prioritizes keeping food in the human supply chain. The report also notes that reducing food waste can help address the plight of millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity.
The report is the first in a two-part series. Part 1 handles the cradle-to-consumer (think: farm to fork) food supply chain; Part 2 will focus on the impacts of food loss and waste management options, or destinations downstream of the consumer.