The Challenge: Reduce Food Waste


40% of the food grown in the US is never eaten. Nationwide, food waste (food scraps) make up the largest component of material that gets buried in landfills – approximately 22% or over 30 million tons per year. It’s estimated that as much as 30% of the waste stream is compostable. In Ulster County, that equates to about 33,000 tons or organics that could be diverted through reduction and composting.

Wasting food wastes everything; all the water, land, fertilizer, fuel, and energy used to grow and transport that good also goes to waste. In Canada, America, and Mexico combined, the impact of food waste is estimated to be about 168 million tons per year. Looking at the whole lifecycle impact of this waste:

  • 18 billion cubic meters of water gets wasted each year, enough to fill 7 million Olympic sized swimming pools
  • 3.9 million tons of fertilizer gets wasted
  • 193 million tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to 41 million cars per year
  • 260 million people could be fed with edible food that goes to waste
  • 274 million homes could be powered by the wasted energy
  • $278 billion per year USA – $2 billion spent on landfill tipping fees
  • 39 million cubic meters of landfill space*

In addition, by reducing food waste, you will save money. Given the cost of groceries these days, that can mean huge savings.


Simple, small acts make a huge difference in preventing food loss and reducing food waste.

  • Practice Proper Food Storage: Keeping your refrigerator clean and organized helps minimize food spoilage. Do not overfill your refrigerator or freezer. Allow enough space between foods so that cold air can circulate around.
  • Leftovers are safe for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, don’t let them go to waste.
  • Interpreting Food Labels: most date labels indicate peak freshness, not food safety.
  • Shop smart by planning meals.
  • If you’re not going to eat it…donate it to a local food bank.*


Learn how to use your leftovers efficiently!

Creative Leftovers Event

For a complete list of ways you can reduce food waste your home, download Ulster Country Resource Recovery Agency’s new guide:

Home Guide to Reducing Food Waste! 



*Food waste. UCRRA. (2022, September 19). Retrieved December 22, 2022, from