Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said U.S. enjoys the world's most abundant food supply, but far too much is never eaten. "Not only could this food be going to folks who need it – we also have an opportunity to reduce the amount of food that ends up in America's landfills," he said.
An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. goes to waste. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, that's about $48.3 billion worth of food. Not only does this waste monetary and natural resources, it also contributes to global warming because organic waste in landfills is a major source of methane emissions.
General Mills and Unilever have pledge participation in the challenge, along with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, which is made up of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the National Restaurant Association and the Food Marketing Institute. General Mills has pledged to reduce its solid waste generation 50 percent by 2015 and Unilever has committed to reducing waste in its agricultural supply chain.
The USDA has also identified a diverse number of areas where it can address the issue of food waste. These range from improving the way food loss is estimated and modeled to composting the meat samples that are used in safety inspections. They're also looking at how to cut down on waste in school lunches.
World Environment Day started in 1972. This year, organizations around the globe will be addressing the problems associated with food waste.