EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, announced the “National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics” as part of the whole-of-government approach to tackle climate change, feed people, address environmental justice, and promote a circular economy. The strategy released provides tangible goals that the U.S. government partners along with retailers and consumers can work toward to help further prevent the loss and waste of food, increase recycling of food and other organic materials to support a more circular economy for all, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner, healthier communities.

“USDA is committed to reducing food loss and waste, facilitating many programs and activities to assist farmers, producers, communities and businesses,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.“This National Strategy charts a course to reduce our nation’s food loss and waste by 50% by 2030, and I am proud of the actions outlined for USDA and our Federal partners. Everyone has a role to play in reducing food loss and waste, and I hope that these federal commitments will inspire and catalyze action in the private sector and communities around the US.”

“The FDA is committed to completing the actions outlined in the National Strategy that incentivize and encourage food loss and waste prevention and organics recycling,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Along with the FDA, USDA and EPA efforts, U.S. consumers and retailers play an important role in meeting the National Strategy’s goal of reducing food loss and waste by 2030. As part of the release of this Strategy, the FDA has made important resources available to guide, support, and accelerate their food loss and waste activities including the 2022 Food Code, Tips to Reduce Food Waste and the Food Loss and Waste Social Media Toolkit. We encourage all stakeholders to take advantage of these resources as we work together to reduce food loss and waste.”

Recent EPA research shows that 58% of methane emissions released to the atmosphere from landfills are from food waste. Each year in the U.S., food loss and waste create potent greenhouse gas pollutants equal to the emissions of 60 coal-fired power plants. The strategy aims to prevent and divert organic waste from landfills to reduce GHG emissions and highlights opportunities, especially where there are environmental justice concerns, to build community-scale organics recycling infrastructure, reduce pollution and create jobs.

The strategy drives progress toward the National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal to reduce the loss and waste of food by 50% by 2030. In 2021, EPA updated its U.S. baseline to align the 2030 goal with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, which aims to reduce the amount of food from food retail, food service, and households that has been removed from the human supply chain. In addition, this goal supports the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. Because methane is both a powerful GHG and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions to food loss and waste would have a rapid and significant effect on reducing GHG emissions.

The strategy highlights four objectives:

Objective 1: Prevent food loss.

Objective 2: Prevent food waste.

Objective 3: Increase the recycling rate for all organic waste.

Objective 4: Support policies that incentivize and encourage the prevention of food loss and waste and organics recycling.

For each objective, the strategy highlights actions that EPA, FDA, or USDA could take. Examples of specific EPA actions include:

  • Develop and lead a national consumer education and behavior change campaign.
  • Test innovative approaches to reducing food waste across the supply chain.
  • Support the development of additional organics recycling infrastructure through grants and other assistance for all communities, and especially those that are underserved.
  • Expand the market for products made from recycled organic waste.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov.