As part of COP28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in releasing a draft strategy to help prevent food waste and the associated climate impacts. The strategy supports the national goal of reducing food loss and waste in the United States by 50% by 2030.

In the U.S., 30 to 40% of food is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce it and creating environmental impacts. Much of this uneaten food ends up in landfills where it generates more methane emissions than any other material. More than a third of municipal waste is organic, including 66 million tons of food.

To tackle the issue, the Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics outlines targeted actions the USDA, EPA, and FDA could take. These would not only prevent unnecessary waste and encourage the recycling of organics, but they would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner communities.

“Food loss and waste pose a real challenge to agriculture, food, and the climate. In order to tackle this problem, and in turn build a resilient food system and mitigate climate impacts, we must explore and implement innovative solutions,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This joint effort between USDA, EPA, and FDA will enhance interagency coordination and represents a vital step towards preventing food loss and waste, increasing organic waste recycling, and promoting economic opportunity.”

The strategy is open for public comment until 4 January 2024.