Curbing food waste: A review of recent policy and action in the USA

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23 Scopus citations


The present study reviews previous published estimates as to the scale of food waste in the USA and its ecological toll (e.g., in terms of methane emissions and water usage to support the production of wasted food). The review further discusses recent public policy and private action designed to curb food waste or to apply wasted food toward hunger alleviation, biofuel production and soil nourishment. We further consider and expand upon previous estimates comparing the scale of food waste to the present scale of the US hunger problem. These estimates suggest that the recovery and redirection of an additional 15% of the present stock of edible food waste would meet 35% of the caloric needs of all Americans living in a food insecure household or very low food security household. Then, a modest to moderate proportional increase in edible food waste recovery could greatly reduce the US hunger problem in its present state. We estimate that the successful redirection of 15% of presently-wasted (edible) food in the USA would be sufficient to fully sustain 18.45 million individuals. Given available data, we cannot precisely assess the nutritional characteristics of this potential stock of food. The present study emphasizes the traditional and future importance of integrated public policy and private action at the municipal level, as food waste is typically disposed of or recovered at this level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
JournalRenewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • anaerobic digester
  • biofuel production
  • food disposal policy
  • food recovery
  • food waste
  • hunger alleviation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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