February 10, 2017

Best if Used

Karen Kao, Project Manager, Innovation & Industry Support

Forty percent. That’s the amount of food wasted in the U.S. each year. That’s two out of the five bananas that you bought this week at the market. That’s getting 7 eggs when you really bought a dozen.

Food waste is an epidemic of two issues:

The first, is the obvious – waste! Awareness and action around this topic is the focus of this year’s Ad Council “Save the Food” campaign. When you throw food away, you’re not only wasting its nutritional value, but also the embodied resources it took to get to you – the raw materials to grow it, the labor to harvest it, the emissions to transport it, and much more.  

This leads us to the second issue – greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve heard that cars and cows are large contributors of methane, the potent greenhouse gas responsible for much of our climate change, but did you know that food decomposing in the landfill is also a significant contributor? When food is wasted, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions really becomes a compound of pre- and post-consumer levels.  

So what can we do? In the words of the Ad Council, “Cook It, Store It, Share It. Don’t Waste It.” The subsequent solution is anaerobic digesters. These tanks essentially “digest” food waste and other raw materials to produce biogas for use as fuel and electricity, thereby recovering some of the embodied energy of the wasted food. To learn more about this technology, see this previous blog post on how it works!

So on your next trip to the market, remember: best if used.