People can reduce food waste by a third by composting, ReFED says.

PaGinger Zee

Wednesday, April 12, 2023, 5:43 p.m

Food waste fills US landfills, creating most harmful greenhouse gases, EPA data shows

Americans produce 294 million tons of trash each year. About half of them go straight to landfills.

In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency, the most common material sent to landfills is food. This creates a huge problem because when food gets trapped between plastics and other trash, it releases one of the most harmful greenhouse gases, methane.

“Studies have shown that the climate footprint of food waste is larger than the entire aviation industry,” said food waste expert Dana Gunders, director of the national nonprofit ReFED.

But people can cut at least one-third of their food waste by composting table scraps rather than throwing them in the trash, Gunders said.

Waste still releases some carbon dioxide as it decomposes, but it’s much less harmful than the methane it produces in a landfill.

Plastic is another waste problem. Less than 10% of plastic is properly recycled. Plastics in the environment break down into microplastics, which then end up in the oceans, where they are eaten by fish.

Tips for reducing plastic waste in your home

  • Look for wasteful plastic in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Don’t forget to buy dishwasher capsules without a plastic case.
  • Instead of a disposable sponge, choose a silicone sponge that can be washed in the dishwasher.
  • In the shower, switch plastic containers for shampoo, conditioner, face and body soap.

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