Document Type



DOI 10.1021/acs.est.5b03880

Publication Date



Food waste; municipal solid waste; meta-analysis; quantification; waste characterization


Food waste has major consequences for social, nutritional, economic, and environmental issues, and yet the amount of food waste disposed in the U.S. has not been accurately quantified. We introduce the transparent and repeatable methods of meta-analysis and systematic reviewing to determine how much food is discarded in the U.S., and to determine if specific factors drive increased disposal. The aggregate proportion of food waste in U.S. municipal solid waste from 1995 to 2013 was found to be 0.147 (95% CI 0.137-0.157) of total waste, which is lower than that estimated by USEPA for the same period (0.176). The proportion of food waste increased significantly with time, with the western U.S. region having consistently and significantly higher proportions of food waste than other regions. There were no significant differences in food waste between rural and urban samples, or between commercial/institutional and residential samples. The aggregate disposal rate for food waste was 0.615 pounds (0.279 kg) (95% CI 0.565-0.664) of food waste disposed per person per day, which equates to over 35.5 million tons (32.2 million tonnes) of food waste disposed annually in the U.S.



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