Across a wide range of American industries, from farming to grocery stores to restaurants, finding better food waste management techniques is a major and pressing concern. And not hard to find why: 50 percent of all U.S. produce is tossed instead of eaten, while a full third of all foodstuffs are produced only to be wasted.
In fact, food waste takes up 19 percent of all landfill space, making it the single-largest class of landfill garbage. Although food naturally decomposes, this is small comfort considering the vast quantities of methane gas that this rotting throw-away food produces.
Why So Much Wasted Food, America?
The U.S. wastes far more food than most other countries of the world. Even wealthy and heavily industrialized Europe wastes far less food in their grocery stores than the nearly 10 percent waste seen at American stores.
One would think that the drive for efficiency in the business world would curtail this excessive waste, especially when you consider the extra costs of production, transportation, storage, and finally, disposal of wasted foods. Why, then, does the problem persist?
One reason is that food is much cheaper in the United States than in many other parts of the world and that Americans are better to do, making them able to afford a higher degree of waste. But when one considers that some 10 percent of Americans lack sufficient amount of food to maintain a healthy diet, such an explanation certainly can’t excuse these wasteful habits.
Another possible cause is the heavily subsidized nature of the modern U.S. agricultural scene. One might argue that it’s simply easier to put up with waste when you know the taxpayers are paying for it
But a final ingredient in this food waste dilemma is that Americans tend to be “pickier” than others about their fresh produce. Even the tiniest defect can often doom a perfectly good tomato, banana, or head of lettuce to consumer rejection.
Food Waste Management Solutions
Luckily for concerned business owners, there are now numerous viable solutions ready at hand.
Here are some of the most common and most effective ways to reduce or manage food waste levels in your business:
- Recycle by Composting: Food producers can solve 100% of their food waste problems by simply organizing an effective composting strategy. And doing so not only eliminates waste, it also saves you money because you don’t need to “outsource” your compost production.
- Turn Wasted Food into Animal Feed: Cultivating compost is one way to recycle food, but it can also be done in the bellies of cattle, sheep, pigs, and other livestock (themselves destined to become food).
- Use Waste Food to Produce Products: From bio-fuels to liquid fertilizer, there are many useful products that can be manufactured from certain kinds of waste foods. And often “left overs” of one company could be useful in another industry for the food scrap.
- Source Reduction:The simplest way to curtail food waste is to simply produce less whenever overproduction is clearly leading to waste.
- Food Donation: When excess foodstuffs are still safe to eat, they can be given to the hungry and the poor who find it difficult to afford sufficient food in today’s high-priced economy.
Food product growers, transporters, and sellers in the U.S. can find realistic and even profitable ways to combat excessive food waste. Given the inefficiency of food waste and the humanitarian debacle of throwing away food while many go hungry, food waste management should be a top priority across a host of industries.