Richard Redmond, a California resident, brings a gallon-sized container of food scraps to the South Pasadena farmers market every Thursday, where they are gathered and composted for use in gardens, in an effort to limit the amount of household garbage he sends to the landfill.
The site designer in his sixties commented, “It’s simply breathtaking.” “It’s clear that separating it just minimizes the quantity of trash you send out.”
Redmond’s situation is a minuscule glimpse into a colossal worldwide issue, and he has insufficient support.
According to the United Nations, over 931 million tons of food are wasted year, the most of which ends up in landfills, where it decomposes to produce approximately one-tenth of the world’s climate-warming gases.
This is a significant obstacle for governments addressing global warming at the COP27 climate meeting currently ongoing in Egypt. According to officials from the United Nations, sustainability watchdogs, and government agencies contacted by Reuters, few nations are on track to meet their 2015 pledge to reduce food waste by half by 2030.
Rosa Rolle, team leader for food loss and waste at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, stated, “Eight years remain, and we are nowhere near achieving this target.”
At least three of the top five countries that waste the most food per capita, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, have increased their food waste since 2015, according to figures from independent sources that their governments do not dispute. For the other two, Ireland and Canada, no dependable information was provided.
The issue is not exclusive to only wealthy nations. Last year, a United Nations research revealed “negligible” association between household food waste and gross domestic product, indicating “opportunity for improvement” in the majority of nations.
According to experts, the poor performance results from a lack of public investment and clear rules to combat issues such as food deterioration in trucks and warehouses, wasteful consumer habits, and confusion regarding expiration and sell-by dates.
The issue is complicated by a lack of transparency. When the United Nations met, Despite the fact that the General Assembly approved a 2015 target to reduce food waste, it could not provide a clear benchmark against which to monitor progress due to inconsistent country-level estimates.
U.N. On November 16, agencies and organizations attending COP27 will request that governments reaffirm their commitments and offer progress updates at next year’s summit in Dubai, according to Rolle.
The average American wastes more than 700 calories of food per day, which is nearly a third of the necessary daily consumption, according to a study conducted by academics in Switzerland and India in 2020, making America’s progress an essential benchmark for other nations.
The country is not yet a role model. According to ReFED, a group that works closely with the U.S. government to reduce waste, the amount of food wasted in the United States increased by 12 percent between 2010 and 2016, but has since leveled off.
Jean Buzby, the U.S.’s liaison for food waste, stated, “We have a long way to go to reach our objective.” Ministry of Agriculture.
In 2018, the USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration decided to jointly combat food waste in the United States. Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED, stated that they have allocated limited resources to the endeavor since.
The USDA and FDA each have one full-time employee dedicated to food waste, according to Reuters. The EPA declined to provide a figure, citing the fact that the work was distributed among multiple locations.
“Real focus on this problem would require that each of these agencies allocate people and provide resources for that staff to accomplish things,” Gunders said.
The USDA and EPA stated that they do not track food waste expenditures. The FDA refused to comment on its expenditures.
In the interim, the agencies rely on assistance from the business sector. As part of a voluntary USDA and EPA program established in 2016, 47 corporations, including food retailer Ahold Delhaize and processor General Mills, have pledged to halve their food waste by 2030.
On their websites, approximately 15 of these companies have posted updates indicating that they have reduced trash. The EPA and USDA do not verify their progress.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just five states have enacted legislation to prevent food from ending up in landfills. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont make up these states. ReFED considers only two of these insurance to be robust because they cover the vast majority of enterprises and individuals.
The other four of the top five polluters have also been hesitant to establish a baseline against which to gauge progress.
According to a survey by the research firm Katar, the proportion of food discarded by households in New Zealand increased from 8.1% in 2021 to 13.4% in 2022. A representative for New Zealand’s environment ministry stated that the country is finalizing its baseline estimate of food waste in order to set a goal.
Canada, Australia, and Ireland all stated that they were dedicated to achieving the target, but did not specify any progress done thus far.
Between 2007 and 2018, the United Kingdom reduced food waste by 27%, according to The Waste and Resources Action Programme, an organization that monitors national progress. Its effort included removing “best by” dates off food packaging, giving unused food to charitable organizations, and educating the public about meal planning.
Officials in California, which has the most ambitious climate legislation in the United States, are attempting to ensure that food waste is composted rather than sent to landfills. But it is difficult.
Composting emits fewer greenhouse gases than landfilling because decomposition occurs in the open air as opposed to an enclosed trench. When food decomposes in the absence of oxygen, methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, is produced.
The state established a law in 2016 mandating a 75% decrease in organic waste landfilling by 2025. In 2020, though, the state was headed in the opposite direction, sending 2 million tons more food to landfills than in 2014, its baseline year.
According to the League of California Cities, which represents the state’s towns, the delays are caused in part by a shortage of facilities to process organic waste and a 13-month window between when regulations were completed and when they were to be implemented.
In Apple Valley, Southern California, however, municipal officials are prepared and have provided homeowners with 35-gallon organic garbage containers.
The service has increased monthly waste collection costs for consumers by few dollars, but it is money well spent, according to Guy Eisenbrey, director of municipal services.
“Our goal is to avoid being the slowest gazelle in the bunch.”