Food Waste - The Issue with Food Waste

The Issue with Food Waste

Food Waste management, specifically the reduction of food loss and wasted food, is an important, active and timely issue in the United States and around the world today. Due to the environmental, economic, and social impacts and implications of wasted food, it is crucial that New Jersey identify and implement measures to reduce the wasting of food.

In N.J.S.A. 13:1E-226 et seq., the NJ Legislature declared wasted food to be a major issue. Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption in the world is wasted every year. This wasted food also leads to wasted resources such as land, water, and nutrients used to produce the wasted food. This food waste then has to be disposed of, often in landfills, where the food breaks down and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. If a quarter of all food lost or wasted globally could be saved, roughly 870 million people could be fed as well as avoiding the economic and environmental impact of wasted food.

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which established a target to cut in half the amount of food wasted by 20301. A year prior, the G7 countries committed to facilitate the exchange of best practices and resources in reducing food waste as part of the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency's focus on circular economies2.

Many organizations, including the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and ReFED, along with states like California, Oregon and Massachusetts, as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency have recognized the importance of food waste management and developed strategies and techniques to address the issue. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP or Department) has been greatly assisted by these and other entities while developing this website.

Food Waste = Wasted Food

Traditionally the issue of food waste has been centered on acceptable disposal methods (often focused on landfill diversion or recycling or composting) rather than the more thorough and accurate assessment of the expenditure of resources (water, energy, fertilizer, labor, etc.) invested in the production of food all along its supply chain and the true cost of food that is produced but never eaten by a human being.

On this website, the term "wasted food" will be used interchangeably with "food waste" as we believe the term wasted food better focuses on the issue of food loss as the discarding of a valuable and costly resource rather than management of a resource at the end of its life cycle.