Reducing Food Waste and Promoting Food Recovery Globally

As we approach Thanksgiving, some of you will be sitting down with family and friends over a bounty of delicious food, while others may use this occasion to donate their time volunteering in food pantries or kitchens supporting efforts to distribute a meal to those less fortunate.

An estimated one third of food available goes uneaten, much of it going to landfills where it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change. Food waste now represents the single largest category of materials sent to landfills in the U.S. Globally, nearly one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, which would be enough to feed approximately 2 billion people worldwide, and accounts for 6-10 percent of human-generated greenhouse gases.

In September, our Office of International and Tribal Affairs, with our counterparts at the Swedish Embassy, the Swedish Environment Ministry, and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, organized the Seminar on Reducing Food Waste, where I had the pleasure of opening the session with the Swedish Ambassador, Björn Lyrvall, and Ms. Gunilla Blomquist from the Swedish Ministry of Environment. Participants included representatives from EPA, the State Department, United Nations Environmental Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and other stakeholders interested in discussing public and private efforts to reduce food waste both domestically and globally. A U.S. non-governmental organization discussed their work partnering with retailers and corporations to stock a national network of food kitchens and pantries with food for those most in need, including highlighting the key legislation and fiscal policies that facilitates their work. We also heard about the Sweden’s successful efforts to reduce food waste at a public hospital, which saved both money and helped the environment.

We’re working with our international partners to elevate the attention of reducing food waste and promoting food recovery on global scale. It’s a great opportunity to promote sustainable development, which brings economic, environmental, and social benefits for the United States and the world.

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