Blog Post

Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) recently published A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent. ReFED, a collaboration between more than 30 businesses, nonprofits, foundations and government leaders, was founded in 2015 to create the first national study and action plan for reducing food waste in the U.S.

The roadmap identifies the 27 most cost-effective strategies for cutting food waste at a large scale. Currently, the U.S. spends over $218 million annually growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of the 63 million tons of food that is wasted each year. ReFED’s recommended strategies for food waste reduction are in three areas: prevention, food recovery, and recycling.

  • Prevention: Three food waste prevention strategies offer the greatest opportunity for economic return per ton: standardized date labeling, consumer education campaigns, and packaging adjustments. Prevention strategies, which tend to involve little investment and rely primarily on changing behaviors, could save 2.6 million tons of waste annually.
  • Food Recovery: Policies and tax incentives for businesses to donate food, education of businesses, and efficient transportation and cold storage, could nearly double the amount of food recovered to 1.8 billion meals annually.
  • Recycling: Nearly three-quarters of the total potential for food waste recovery is in composting and anaerobic digestion. The Northeast is a region where high landfill disposal fees and high compost and energy market prices give food waste recycling a strong economic value.

The economic opportunity for businesses that cut food waste is significant. Restaurants and foodservice providers could increase profits by $1.6 billion annually through prevention strategies like waste tracking and smaller plate sizes. Grocery retails could increase revenue through selling discounted imperfect produce while decreasing costs by implementing improved inventory management systems and spoilage prevention packaging.
The full report is available here.

Roadmap Food Waste

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts assists businesses and institutions with recycling and food waste reduction through food recycling and food donation. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at