80. Billion. Pounds.
That’s how much meat, produce, dairy, and grain gets thrown out each year. An RTS study on food waste in America has even more shocking facts and figures. Like how 219 pounds of food per person are thrown away in a year, totaling $161 billion. Or that food is the largest component of landfills and makes up 22% of municipal solid waste.
That’s a lot of food. And waste.
At the same time, 37 million Americans (including 11 million children) endured food insecurity last year. When more than a third of the food supply gets thrown away, and over ten percent of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands.
We hate hunger, so we did something about this. In 2020, Able Freight partnered with Food Finders to get produce to the people who need it. Through their Food Rescue Program, we donated 1,950 pounds of fresh meat and produce, and fed 1,625 people in our community. As a leading provider of perishables logistics, we are intimately involved in the details of storing and shipping food products. We store tons (literally, tons) of meat and fresh produce in our warehouses. So we have a front-row seat to the disconnect that leads to wasted food.
In 2019 the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations found that up to 40% of food waste comes from something other than consumers. That’s right. Carriers and shippers have the power to cut food waste almost in half. What we see every day is boxes that can’t be accepted at grocery stores for reasons that don’t have to do with quality. Whole pallets of fresh produce that won’t make the cut-off, but are still safe to consume. Nothing against expiration standards, but we could not stand to see all of this go to waste. As cold chain providers, we have a responsibility to make sure that food ends up in stomachs, not landfills. It’s not one that we take lightly.
Legislators are doing their part to address the problem. Here in Los Angeles we have a Zero Food Waste Task Forcewhich is tasked with finding opportunities to reduce food waste and increase recyclable resources. Other states have joined California in funding private sector composting.
But there’s a lot that private citizens can do too. We don’t have to just sit around waiting for someone else to handle this problem. Let’s take it on as a team. Some food for thought…