Americans food waste study: Up to 40 percent tossed each year


An employee in a food aisle of Wal-Mart's Chicago store.


Tim Boyle

Americans throw out nearly half of their food, tossing up to 40 percent in the garbage each year, according to a new study.

That adds up to an estimated $165 billion in food wasted annually, the Natural Resources Defense Council said in its report released Monday.

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The average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or about 20 pounds of food per person each month.

That's 10 times as much food as a consumer in South Asia trashes each year, according to the coucil.

"As a country, we're essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That's money and precious resources down the drain," Dana Gunders, a scientist with the council's food and agriculture program, told Reuters.

Food waste has jumped 50 percent in the US since the 1970s, and now makes up the majority of solid waste in landfills, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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The council says that's particularly worrisome in a time of record drought, with food prices rising and expected to go only higher.

According to the council, cutting food waste by even 15 percent would save enough to feed 25 million Americans each year. Europe is leading the way in food waste reduction efforts, adopting a resolution in January pledging to cut food waste in half by 2020 and designating 2014 as the "European year against food waste."