Updating EPA’s Wasted Food Report

4 photos showing discarded food

Project Brief

The Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 66.2 million tons of wasted food was generated in the food retail, food service, and residential sectors and an additional 40.1 million tons was generated in the food manufacturing and processing sectors in 2019. Wasted food contributes to climate change, air pollution, waste scarcity, biodiversity loss, and natural resource degradation. EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set a goal for the U.S. to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030. Because agencies cannot manage what they cannot measure, EPA sought to estimate wasted food generation to track progress of wasted food for domestic and international goals and to identify waste reduction strategies.

ERG's Solution

ERG leveraged our three decades of life cycle assessment, municipal solid waste management generation and management estimates, and extensive greenhouse gas emissions accounting experience to support EPA’s 2019 Wasted Food Report. The Report enhanced EPA’s existing methodology and provided details estimated by sector and by management pathway of wasted food. ERG helped EPA update this report in alignment with the “Food Loss and Waste Accounting Standard (FLW Standard)”, the global standard for quantifying and reporting on the weight of food removed from the food supply chain, and develop food waste generation estimates for 2019. ERG continues to work on future updates to the Wasted Food Report series.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency