Blog Post

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released new reports that quantify the environmental impacts of wasted food. In response to these findings, the EPA introduced the Wasted Food Scale (pictured below), an iteration of the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy. The Wasted Food Scale is designed to empower individuals, businesses, institutions, and more with the information they need to make informed choices in managing food waste. 

The reports that informed the new Wasted Food Scale: 

  1. From Field to Bin: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste Management Pathways (Part 2) looks at the environmental impacts of managing food waste. This report builds on the EPA’s 2021 report, From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste (Part 1), which analyzed the environmental footprint of food waste throughout the supply chain from farm to consumer. 
  2. Quantifying Methane Emissions from Landfilled Food Waste marks a significant milestone as the EPA’s first-ever published estimates of annual methane emissions from landfilled food waste. The report’s data confirms that diverting food waste from landfills is an effective way to reduce methane emissions. 

For more information on the two new reports, click here. 

How is the Wasted Food Scale different from the pyramidic EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy (which was last updated in the 1990s)?  

  • Raises the ranking of composting, which used to be below anaerobic digestion 
  • Includes additional management pathways, such as sewer/wastewater treatment (i.e., sending food down drains), which occupies the lowest ranking with landfilling and incineration 

The EPA’s new research confirms that preventing food from being wasted in the first place, also known as source reduction, is still the most environmentally beneficial approach. 

If your business, institution, or school is looking into sustainable approaches to managing surplus food and food waste, RecyclingWorks is ready to help! Feel free to contact us at 888-254-5525 or for free support.