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EPA Focuses on Food Waste for 15th Annual America Recycles Day

Release Date: 11/15/2012
Contact Information: Stacy Kika,, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355; en español: Lina Younes, 202-564-9924, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Today on the 15th annual America Recycles Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewed its commitment to helping Americans reduce wasted food by working with grocers, universities, stadiums and other venues through its Sustainable Materials Management Food Recovery Challenge.

According to EPA estimates, food is now the single largest type of waste going to our municipal landfills and incinerators – more than 33 million tons of food ends up in landfills or are combusted each year. When food is discarded in landfills, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food, an average of 20 pounds per person a month. Much of this wasted food is actually surplus, wholesome and edible food that could have helped those in need.

“In 15 years of America Recycles Day, we’ve seen how recycling not only helps us conserve our resources and protect our environment – it also helps us save money by cutting back on purchasing needs and waste disposal efforts,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Through the Sustainable Materials Management Food Recovery Challenge, participants are encouraged to make smarter, more sustainable food management choices. Our goal is to limit food waste – the single largest type of waste entering our landfills and incinerators – and ensure that excess food goes toward feeding our families, not filling our wastebaskets.”

The Sustainable Materials Management Food Recovery Challenge seeks to help reduce the environmental impacts of how materials are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed. Through better purchasing decisions and finding better uses for surplus food, participants in the challenge are supporting communities by feeding people, not landfills. Challenge participants are also finding that they are saving money through reduced purchasing and waste disposal fees.

All Americans can help reduce food waste by limiting food purchases to what they are able to eat, and finishing leftovers before buying more food. In addition, freezing or preserving produce before it goes bad, donating canned or other untouched, safe food to those in need, and composting food scraps can reduce wasted food.

America Recycles Day, November 15, is a time to reflect on the progress our country has made to conserve our natural resources and to look for new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and more efficiently manage materials. This America Recycles Day, EPA encourages Americans to look for more opportunities to recycle, but also to consider additional opportunities to conserve resources. Reducing wasted food is an opportunity where all Americans can help make a difference.

For the America Recycles Day Presidential Proclamation:

More information on reducing food waste:

More information on EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Food Recovery Challenge:

More information on how to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle:

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