Jan 2, 2024 - News

Texas food waste largely comes from households

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

The table is cleared of holiday food. But those uneaten leftovers have to go somewhere.

What's happening: The amount of surplus food waste in Texas is on the decline, but there were still millions of tons of surplus food in 2022, per data from the nonprofit ReFED released in December.

  • Surplus food is defined as food uneaten or unsold by people and businesses.

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

  • Nationally, 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.

By the numbers: Texas had about 5.7 million tons of food waste in 2022, the most recent year of data available from the nonprofit.

  • More than half of that came from residential households.
  • Food service accounted for about 23% of Texas food waste in 2022.
  • That was followed by manufacturing at 13%, retail at 6% and farms at nearly 5% of food waste statewide.

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.

The big picture: 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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