California's food waste declining amid tighter regulations
Consumers and businesses in California produced almost 13 million tons of surplus food in 2022, a 10% decrease from 2016, per data from the nonprofit ReFED.
Why it matters: The decrease indicates that the state's efforts to address food waste are making a dent.
The big picture: Wasting food 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.
State of play: California deposits an estimated 11.2 billion pounds of food in landfills annually, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
- State law now requires residents to sort food scraps and other organic waste into a compost-specific bin after new regulations were enacted last year.
- The law also mandates that the state recover 20% of edible food otherwise disposed to landfills for use in addressing food insecurity. That's in addition to California's goal of cutting organic waste disposal by 75% by 2025.
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.
Be smart: 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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