By Tinia Pina
Earlier this year, ReFED released The Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste report and video (check it out below!), the first-ever national economic study and action plan driven by a multi-stakeholder group committed to tackling food waste at scale. Its implementation is planned to help spur economic growth, create jobs, increase food security, and reduce environmental damage caused by food waste.
It is salient for us to remember that every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion growing, processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten. As a result, up to 52 million tons of food is sent to landfills annually, plus an additional estimated 10 million tons get discarded or go unharvested on farms. Meanwhile, 1 in 7 Americans is food insecure without reliable access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food.
The primary finding of the Roadmap is significant: within a decade, food waste can be cut nationwide by over 20% — or 13 million tons annually — by implementing the solutions analyzed in the report. This will generate over $10 billion in annual societal economic value – including $2 billion in additional business profits, reduce 1.5% of national freshwater use, double the number of meals rescued to relieve hunger today and reduce nearly 18 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Our commitment to upcycling organic-certified produce waste at the distribution level is not enough. It's not enough because it is hyper local, small in volumes to truly offset the abundant waste we see everyday, and is limited in application. We hope that REFED only continues to inspire others to join this movement and cultivate the collaboration needed to create scalable solutions that address the fears and concerns that inhibit implementation.