The Impact of Food Waste on Climate Change (And Just About Everything Else)
It is estimated that 40% of the food produced in America is wasted; it amounts to 1400 calories per person every day. According to the EPA, 31 million tons is thrown into landfills. Much of that produces methane as it rots; the gas is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The UK website Next Generation Food estimates that each tonne of food waste is equivalent to 4.2 tonnes of CO2. They conclude that if we simply stopped wasting food, it would be the equivalent of taking a quarter of all the cars in America off the road.
The numbers are extraordinary:
In the US, a report in Plos One at the end of last year found that per capita food waste has progressively increased by 50 percent since 1974 reaching more than 1400 calories per person per day or 150 trillion calories per year. Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and 300 million barrels of oil per year.
The consumption of water and fossil fuel making food that is thrown out, the 150 trillion calories per year, landfilled, that could have fed people around the world, the statistics just pile up.
It seems that so many of our problems, from energy independence to climate change to world hunger to water, could be significantly mitigated if we could just get control of our food system and stop wasting so much.