Jan 4, 2024 - Food and Drink

Virginia's food waste, charted

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

Uneaten holiday leftovers are filling trash cans by the tons after this season.

State of throw-away: Virginia had nearly 2.1 million tons of food waste (uneaten or unsold) in 2022, an 11.1% increase from 2016, per data from the nonprofit ReFED.

Why it matters: Wasting food also wastes the resources that went into producing it, with ripple effects on climate resources and the economy.

  • Food waste makes up 24% of municipal landfill input and contributes to 6.1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • On average, a person wastes $759 on uneaten food each year.

Zoom out: Across the country, people and businesses did not eat or sell 88.7 million tons of food.

  • That's equivalent to nearly 145 billion meals worth $473 billion.
  • Residential waste made up 42.8 million tons, or 48%, of that total.

The big picture: Be mindful of your food waste. ReFED suggests following the "Food Waste Five" strategies for reducing waste at home:

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

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