The Biden-Harris Administration recently announced the draft of a national strategy to reduce food loss and waste in the United States. The actions in the plan are designed to help the country meet its goal to halve food loss and waste by 2030.
According to research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food is the most common material found in landfills, contributing to almost 60 percent of landfill methane emissions. The new National Strategy was developed to reduce the amount of food sent to these facilities, laying out approaches to divert surplus food and implement more sustainable waste management practices.
“The Strategy is a significant step in spurring action,” Jean Buzby, Food Loss and Waste Liaison for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), tells Food Tank.
The document outlines four key objectives: preventing food loss where possible, preventing food waste where possible, increasing the recycling rate for all organic waste, and supporting the policies and incentives to encourage food loss and waste prevention and organics recycling.
The EPA and USDA, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collaborated to produce the National Strategy. For each objective, the report highlights actions that each agency can take to address challenges around food loss and waste and build on work that is already underway.
According to Buzby, “interagency work is vital to ensuring a unified approach to reducing food loss and waste at the federal level.”
Interventions include investing in composting initiatives, strengthening research to understand and address systemic causes of food loss and waste, and encouraging the uniform adoption of food donation practices.
“Investments by the USDA, EPA, and FDA in the prevention of food loss and waste and increasing organics recycling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner communities,” Buzby tells Food Tank.
The comment period on the Draft National Strategy is now open to the public, and Buzby hopes to hear from eaters around the country by February 3, 2024. “Everyone has a role to play in reducing [food loss and waste], including those in both the public and private sector and consumers,” she tells Food Tank. “As food loss and waste impacts all citizens and stakeholders across the food system, we are seeking input and comments from a wide range of parties.”
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Photo courtesy of Bernard Dejean, Wikimedia Commons