Americans throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, and glass
By Roberto A. Ferdman, The Washington Post, Wonkblog, September 23, 2014
The much-anticipated U.N. Climate Summit, which began today in New York, is ostensibly a platform for world leaders to leap frog debates over whether climate change is real, and skip straight to discussions centered around how to overcome the challenges it poses. But it’s also an impetus for those beyond the sessions’ panels to illuminate troubling patterns of behavior that are contributing to our collective carbon footprint–and food waste is without question one of the most egregious, especially in the United States.
In 2012, the most recent year for which estimates are available, Americans threw out roughly 35 million tons of food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s almost 20 percent more food than the United States tossed out in 2000, 50 percent more than in 1990, and nearly three times what Americans discarded in 1960, when the country threw out a now seemingly paltry 12.2 million tons.
In 1980, food waste accounted for less than 10 percent of total waste; today, it makes up well over a fifth of the country’s garbage. Americans, as it is, now throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, or glass—and by a long shot.