Two government agencies have announced a goal that could serve as a rallying call to reduce tonnages of disposed food.
The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week set a countrywide goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent within the next 15 years. It is the first national goal of its kind, according to the announcement.
Of the 37 million tons of food waste generated by the U.S. in 2013, 35.2 millions, or 95 percent, was sent to landfill, EPA statistics show.
The EPA says its recent initiative is an attempt to limit landfilling and improve food security in the U.S.
"Let's feed people, not landfills," said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator. "By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations."
The EPA and USDA are hoping the public and private sector can help make use of excess food by donating it to charities and other organizations that work to "improve overall food security."
Since 1960, when just over 12 million tons of food waste were generated, food scrap generation has skyrocketed in the U.S. After hitting 23.9 million tons in 1990 and 30.7 million tons in 2000, food waste generation has continued to climb, with 2013's total representing an all-time high.
At the same time, USDA data indicate food insecurity has also risen. In 2000, just over 10 percent of U.S. households were considered food insecure; in 2014 the number rose to 14 percent.
The US Composting Council and six other groups voiced "strong support" for reduction target. In a letter sent to both the USDA and EPA, the groups stated, "This goal, while ambitious, is doable."
A copy of the letter can be read on the website of the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger here.
In a statement sent to Resource Recycling, Rod Tyler, president of the US Composting Council, said, "We look forward to working with USDA, EPA and many other partners to build a robust national infrastructure to reduce, recover and recycle wasted food in the U.S. By digesting and composting that portion that cannot be used to feed people or animals we can provide bioenergy and soil amendments that help heal the earth while avoiding significant greenhouse gas emissions."