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Between 73 and 152 million metric tons of food gets wasted each year in the U.S., or over over a third of the country’s food supply, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The most commonly wasted foods are fruits and vegetables, followed by dairy and eggs. Over half of all waste occurs at households and restaurants. The food processing sector generates 34 million metric tons of waste per year, the agency said.
EPA said that halving food waste in the U.S. — a goal set by policymakers — would save 3.2 trillion gallons of blue water, 640 million pounds of fertilizer, 262 billion kilowatt hours of energy and 92 million metric ton equivalents of carbon dioxide over 75 million acres of agricultural land. Reducing waste of meats, cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables would have the biggest environmental impact, according to the agency.
Over the past decade, total U.S. food loss and waste has increased by 12% to 14%, according to EPA. Based on these findings, in order for the U.S. to reach its goal of halving food waste by 2030, it will require greater effort from consumers, businesses and legislators.