Learn More About Food Waste

Below is a collection of food recovery/waste facts, guides and resources to learn more about food waste and what we can do about it.

Table of Contents

Food Waste Overview
Different Strategies of Food Recovery
Food Recovery/Waste Reports
Myth of Date labeling

Food Waste Overview


  • 40% of all food produce in the US ends up in the dump
    • 20% of waste in the dump is food
    • 20% of methane gas comes from organics in landfills
    • Methane is 20-30x a more potent greenhouse than carbon dioxide
  • 13% of DC households are food insecure
  • Redistributing only 30% of food waste could eliminate food insecurity in the US
  • 133 billion lbs wasted per year
  • $161 Billion annual cost of uneaten food
  • Family of 4 spends $1500 a year on food they don’t eat
  • Biggest producers of waste
    • 56% residential (households)
    • 36% commercial
    • 8% institutional.
    • These numbers do not include waste that occurs at the production and distribution level


Back to Top

Different Strategies of Food Recovery

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy


Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) Food Recovery Hierarchy

(focused more on a decentralized local strategies)

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 8.39.02 PM.png


Back to Top

Food Recovery/Waste Reports

Food Waste Facts

End Food Waste Now: Fact Sheet

Further With Food:  Food Loss and Waste Data

The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Food Waste

NRDC:  Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

USDA: The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States

Why the United States Leads the World in Food Waste

Food Recovery Facts

ReFEDa multi-stakeholder nonprofit committed to reducing U.S. food waste.

Five Reasons Cities Should Take a Leading Role on Food Waste


Back to Top

Myth of Date Labeling


“Best By” “Sell By” “Used By” “Best if Used By”

In 1970s there was a movement for federal safety food date labeling standards

  • This movement failed
  • Date labels fell back to the states who have many different standards
  • Decisions fell to food manufacturers like:
    • Which label to use
    • How to calculate the date
  • Manufacturers moved away from standards of safety base on science and health
  • And moved towards standards to protect “consumer experience, peak freshness, and brand integrity


  • We have an arbitrary date labeling system not based on science or health and different among many states
  • No one understands the system
  • About half the states, including DC, have laws preventing the donations of products past their date label, even though it may be good for several more weeks
  • Causes consumers to throw away food still good to buy more


  • ignore date labels!!!
  • Learn to understand signs when food is starting to become expired such as smell, look, or taste.
  • Compost food starting to turn bad

Adam Ruins Everything – What the Date Labels on Food Actually Mean


Back to Top