How much food waste is there?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is food waste. About 31 percent of food loss happens at the retail and consumer levels. In 2010, this added to roughly 133 billion pounds of food worth about $161 billion. This is a waste of money, resources, time, and opportunities to feed those that experience food insecurity. The USDA reports that 10.2 percent of households in the U.S. experienced food insecurity at some time during 2021.
On a global scale, the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Food Waste Report 2021 reports that 1 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year. Similar to the USDA report, this is equal to about one-third of all food produced.
What is the environmental impact of food waste?
With over one-third of food produced in the U.S. not being eaten, the environmental impact of food waste includes a waste of resources and emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste each year is equivalent to annual amounts of:
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from more than 42 coal-fired power plants
- Water and energy to supply more than 50 million homes
- Fertilizers used in the U.S. to grow all plant-based foods for U.S. human consumption
- Area of agricultural land equal to California and New York
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Water for Sustainable Food and Agriculture found that agriculture is responsible for roughly 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals. According to a study, agriculture is also responsible for about one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The one-third of food produced that goes uneaten is responsible for 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
How does Mountain Burger reduce food waste?
Mountain Burger’s culinary team works hard to reduce food waste through a number of methods, including adjusting ordering and prep lists. The culinary team works hard to use ingredients before their expiration dates and makes adjustments in their ordering and prep when they have a surplus.
For food waste, Mountain Burger has added more compost bins in the kitchen to ensure all food scraps from prep and customers find their way into the compost bins rather than the regular garbage. We have also added a second 64-gallon compost bin that gets picked up once a week and heads to the compost facility.
Food waste includes scraps from prep and unfinished portions from customers which go into the compost bin where it is composted at Knott Landfill Recycling Center. Composting diverts food waste from landfills where it takes up space in our rapidly filling landfill in Deschutes County and emits methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Instead, the food scraps are composted and turned into nutrient-rich soil which can be used for new growth in Central Oregon.
Reducing food waste produced in the kitchen and composting food scraps helps restaurants lower their environmental impact and it’s one of the ways Mountain Burger helps you dine sustainably. Our food is too good not to finish, but if you have leftovers, make sure to take them home for a midnight snack!