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The Real Costs of Food Waste

A new report outlines dozens of ways to turn around the crisis by 2030.
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Phillip Cohen/Flickr

On a personal level, food waste is inconvenient and annoying—maybe you feel a fleeting tinge of regret after pitching soggy leftovers into the trash. But on a national scale in the U.S., it’s a crisis.

The statistics are even more dire than previously calculated, according to a new report released today by Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data, a coalition of non-profits, foundations, and businesses. The authors figured that the sum total of wasted food is 63 million tons each year—some 52.4 millions tons hauled off to landfills, and more than 10 million tons left unharvested on farms. A previous estimate, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency, found this figure to be more to the tune of 35 million tons.