How does food waste contribute to climate change?

How does food waste contribute to climate change?

Did you know that 15% of the energy consumed in the US is used to produce food?  So, wasting food is also wasting the energy used to produce it.  In addition, there is the issue of what becomes of the energy stored in food when it is discarded.

We all know that uneaten food and some other materials, like fresh grass clipping, soon start to look unappealing and smell.  That’s because they are organic materials and once their life is over they start to decay or decompose.  The energy stored in the organic materials is a food source for various microbes.

In a landfill, materials are compacted and covered with soil.  The environment soon becomes depleted of oxygen.  When food and other yummy (to bacteria) materials decompose in an environment with no oxygen, 2 gases are produced – carbon dioxide and methane – in roughly equal proportions.  Both are greenhouse gases but methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas.  On a 20-year timeframe methane has 86 times more Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide.   Reducing food waste translates to less wasted energy and less production of carbon dioxide and methane.

Want more information?   Click here for the data presented at the November 2020 Climate Action Meeting.

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