When Waste Rots

Curious about food waste’s environmental impact after it’s been sent to a landfill? A report from the UK provides the dirt on London’s food waste carbon footprint. (If you’re curious, here’s the entire report.) The headline:

Londoners produce food waste which emits 6.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, a new report reveals.

photo courtesy of D'Arcy Norman (via Creative Commons)Just how bad is that? I’m not quite sure, since my last name isn’t Gore and the press release doesn’t provide any context. Still, I know it’s millions of tons more than there has to be.

The report uses the estimate that 25 percent of landfill waste is food, which is a bit high for the U.S. (it’s 18 percent here, according to the EPA). While our rate is slightly lower than Britain’s, I’d guess that we have a few more landfills than the U.K.

One final note: the City of London studied this topic. Can you imagine Washington or New York City having that kind of interest in the effects of food waste? Me neither.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted February 26, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Jon,
    I can imagine DC or NYC having a greater interest in food waste; once your book hits the market, it’ll be like a ham sandwich from out of left-field (not a mixed metaphor, I swear). On a different note–I don’t know whether you’re on Facebook or not, but a group of students I am working with at SUNY Binghamton started up a group called “University Students Against Food Waste.” It’s right up your alley. It’s been around less than a week, and it has over 100 members. A student and myself are also taking photographs and posting them on there. Members are actually identifying their food waste from the photographs, which is quite interesting.
    Peace and Love,
    Dan

  2. Posted February 26, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Left Field Ham Sandwich is actually the working title of my book! How did you guess that??

    Just joshing, Dan. I hope you’re right.

    As for Facebook, I’m a little afraid of the amount of time it will suck from my life…but I know I must surrender at some point. When I do, I’ll be sure to hook up with you guys. As for the photos, I’d love it if you added some to the Food Waste Flickr group. But no pressure.

  3. Posted February 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan,

    I gave an interview yesterday and then realized when I was all done that I forgot to mention anything about food waste! (Flog self with wet noodle, then work it into a casserole.)

    I quickly sent an e-mail to amend my sorry ways and to elaborate about how food waste is both an economic and environmental issue, which was the focus of the article.

    Getting the word out,

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    The Non-Consumer Advocate

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

4 Trackbacks

  1. By From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can - NYTimes.com on November 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    [...] And from a health standpoint, allowing fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to spoil in our refrigerators increases the likelihood that we will turn to less healthful processed foods or restaurant meals. Wasted food also takes an environmental toll. Food scraps make up about 19 percent of the waste dumped in landfills, where it ends up rotting and producing methane, a greenhouse gas. [...]

  2. By From Farm To Fridge To Garbage Can on December 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    [...] And from a health standpoint, allowing fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to spoil in our refrigerators increases the likelihood that we will turn to less healthful processed foods or restaurant meals. Wasted food also takes an environmental toll. Food scraps make up about 19 percent of the waste dumped in landfills, where it ends up rotting and producing methane, a greenhouse gas. [...]

  3. [...] makes up about 19 percent of the waste dumped in landfills, where it ends up rotting and producing methane, a greenhouse gas.  Squandering so much of what we grow also wastes the fossil fuel that went into growing, [...]

  4. By Adventures in Composting | greenwake on May 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    [...] complete waste (bad pun intended) of composing potential as they rot slowly surrounded by plastic, generating methane. We may only take out the trash a few times a month now, but our compost bag gets full and stinky [...]

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