Households account for the majority of food waste. According to ReFED, US households bin no fewer than 76 billion pounds of food each year.
Approximately 40–50% of food waste (including 51–63% of seafood waste) occurs at the consumer level.
In the United States, the average person wastes 238 pounds of food per year (21 percent of the food purchased), costing $1,800 per year.
In terms of total mass, fresh fruits and vegetables account for the greatest consumer losses (19% of fruits and 22% of vegetables), followed by dairy (20%), meat (21%), and seafood (21%). (31 percent)
What are the reasons for food waste in households?
Food spoilage: Approximately two-thirds of all food waste at home is due to food not being consumed before it spoils.
Food spoilage at home occurs as a result of improper storage, lack of visibility in refrigerators, partially used ingredients, and miscalculated food requirements.
Over-Preparation: The remaining one-third of household food waste is caused by people cooking or serving too much food.
Cooking portions have grown larger over time, and large meals frequently include more food than we can consume.
The Cornell Food and Brand lab discovered that serving sizes in the classic cookbook.
The Joy of Cooking have increased by 36% since 2006. Furthermore, people frequently forget to eat leftovers and end up throwing them away.
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Date Label Confusion: An estimated 80% of Americans throw out food prematurely due to misunderstandings about the meaning of date labels (e.g., “sell by,” “best if used by,” “expires by,” and so on).
In reality, “sell by” and “use by” dates are not federally regulated and are only manufacturer recommendations for maximum quality.
According to UK date labelling research, standardising food date labelling and clarifying its meaning to the public could reduce household food waste by up to 20%.
Overbuying: Sales on unusual products and promotions at retail stores that encourage impulse and bulk food purchases frequently lead to consumers purchasing items that do not fit into their regular meal plans and, as a result, spoil before they can be used.
Errors in industrial processing and failure to adhere to food safety policies: Another major contributor to food waste is the food safety protocol.
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Food safety protocols leave no room for error in household processing that reduce the quality of the final food products.
As a result of the confusions and errors that occur during household food processing, all food items that do not meet their taste are binned.
Poor Planning: Without meal plans and shopping lists, consumers frequently estimate what and how many ingredients they will use during the week incorrectly.
Unplanned restaurant meals or food delivery can also cause food at home to spoil before it is consumed.
Also read: How To Reduce Food Waste In Hotels
How does food waste affect the environment?
In the United States, only 5% of food is composted, and as a result, uneaten food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste.
Food gradually degrades in landfills, producing methane, a greenhouse gas up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
According to a report from the UK-based organisation WRAP, removing food from UK landfills would be equivalent to removing one-fifth of all cars in the UK from the road.
Consumer food waste has serious implications for energy consumption.
According to a McKinsey study, household food losses account for eight times the energy waste of farm-level food losses due to the energy used along the food supply chain and in preparation.
Furthermore, food waste accounts for more than 25% of all freshwater consumption in the United States each year and is one of the leading causes of fresh water pollution.
Given the resources required for food production, it is worthwhile to ensure that the food we produce does not go to waste.
Read also: Causes Of Food Waste In Restaurants
Over-preparation of food, improper ingredient storage, and failure to use food scraps and trimmings can all contribute to food waste.
All-you-can-eat buffets are especially wasteful because extra food cannot be reused or donated legally due to health code restrictions.
The common practise of keeping buffets fully stocked during work hours (rather than allowing items to run out near the end of the day) generates even more waste.