Jan 8, 2024 - News

Most Massachusetts food waste comes from homes

Estimated Massachusetts food surplus, by sector
Credit: Data: ReFED; Note: Manufacturing and food service surplus estimated at the state level from national data; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Massachusetts let 1.6 million tons of food go to waste in 2022 — most of it from residential households, per data from the nonprofit ReFED.

Why it matters: Food waste makes up 24% of municipal landfill input and contributes to 6.1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, writes Axios' Simran Parwani.

  • It also burns holes in our wallets. On average, a person wastes $759 on uneaten food each year.

Driving the news: Massachusetts saw a nearly 5% increase in food uneaten or unsold between 2016 and 2022, per ReFED.

Zoom in: Some Boston-area restaurants, grocery stores and universities have donated extra food to nonprofits that create meals for locals in need, like Food For Free in Somerville and New York-based Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.

Yes, but: These efforts don't capture the largest source of food waste: the household.

The big picture: Across the country, people and businesses left 88.7 million tons of food uneaten or unsold.

  • Residential waste made up 42.8 million tons, or 48%, of that total.

What you can do: Store food properly.

  • Freeze food to extend its freshness.
  • Dedicate a day each week for eating leftovers.
  • Understand the meaning behind "best by" date labels.
  • Plan your meals before buying groceries.
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