Households toss limp vegetables. People are confused by food date labels. Restaurants often serve massive portions and toss leftovers. Grocery stores overstock their shelves to maintain an image of abundance. Farmers are unable to sell produce that doesn’t look perfect.
At the same time, 1 in 8 Americans struggles to put food on the table.
An enormous amount of resources and energy go into growing, processing, transporting, and eventually disposing of all that wasted food. That includes climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the food system, plus water, fertilizer, packaging, labor, and more.
Most wasted food ends up in landfills, where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Our groundbreaking research has shed light on the amounts and types of food going to waste in three cities and identified opportunities to redirect surplus food to those in need. Through in-depth community engagement, such as through our Nashville Food Waste Initiative and Food Matters work, NRDC is helping cities plan and implement creative approaches to prevent food from going to waste, increase food rescue, and recycle food scraps.
At the federal level, we advocate for sensible food date labeling and greater support for food donations. We also offer practical solutions to address the vast amount of food wasted in the restaurant, retail, and institutional food service sectors.
Wasted food is a problem we can solve. By keeping good food from going to waste, NRDC is helping fight climate change, conserve our natural resources, and build vibrant, resilient communities.