USDA, EPA challenge industry to cut food waste

06/04/2013 10:25:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

reduce, reuse, recycleThe U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have issued a food waste-reduction challenge to those across the food chain, including growers, processors, manufacturers, retailers and even other government agencies.

Under the Food Waste Challenge, voluntary participants will reduce, recover and recycle food waste, according to a news release.

So far, several entities have already signed on, including Rio Farmers, Unilever and General Mills.

The United States wastes between 30 percent and 40 percent of its food supply, or roughly 133 billion pounds, according to estimates.

The value of uneaten food in homes and restaurants in 2008, the last year for which figures are available, was about $390 per consumer.

The goal of the challenge is to draft 400 partners by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020.

For its part, the USDA will look to reduce waste in school meal programs, educate consumers about food waste and develop new technologies to cut waste.

The department also will work with the industry to increase donations of imported produce that doesn't meet quality standards.

EPA will provide participants with access to data management software and technical assistant to help them quantify and improve their food management practices.

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Rod Averbuch    
Chicago IL  |  September, 23, 2013 at 02:09 PM

The large amount of fresh food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, retailers and the struggling families in today’s tough economy. We should address the waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. As an example, the excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration causes waste. Why not let the consumer perform the perishables rotation by offering him proper incentives? There is a new GS1 DataBar global standard that enables an automatic incentive offering application for fresh food close to its expiration. This application encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue and makes fresh food affordable for all families while effectively reducing the global carbon footprint. I encourage food retailers to look into the GS1 DataBar emerging standard. An example of an application (based on GS1 DataBar standard) that could help us win a battle in the food waste war is illustrated at, and I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Rod Averbuch, Chicago, IL

Bill Brown    
Rochester, NY  |  September, 24, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Per the EPA Municipal Solid Waste page listed below only 14.5% of all waste is organic (including food). The article above sites 133 billion pounds of waste, which is worst than just incorrect. It would be 66,500,000 tons or 26.6% of all waste .... almost double the real amount. The EPA and USDA is encouraging the building of anaerobic digesters @ 3.4 Million each to reroute the organic waste, thus generating methane, fertilizer for farmers. The amount of electricity and fertilizer does not come cost to paying for the cost of the digester & generator. The reality is that the digester becomes a fancy transfer station. The methane generated by the organic waste would have also generated electricity at the landfill where it normally would go thus no real gain. The fertilizer could have been created by normal and much less expensive composting operations. Oh, a huge portion of that 3.4 million is being added to our national debt via grants to build the units. So exactly why should be do this???

Bill Brown    
Rochester, NY  |  September, 24, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Forgot the link to the EPA site:

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