By Ben Schiller,Ben Schiller
We wrote last week about our giant food waste problem. Here's more fuel for the fire: an infographic from U.K. food industry magazine Next Generation Food that illustrates the environmental impact of wasted food.
The infographic includes some remarkable statistics taken from a peer-reviewed study about food waste in the U.S. Waste has increased by about 50% since 1974, and now accounts for nearly 40% of all food produced in the U.S. Across the supply chain, we lose 1,400 kilocalories per head per day, or 150 trillion kilocalories each year (kilocalories are the "calories" you see on the back of food packs). Food waste accounts for a quarter of the freshwater supply, and 300 million gallons of oil a year. That's a lot of wasted resources at a time of water shortages and higher gas prices. The U.S. consumed 6.9 billion barrels of oil last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
It wouldn't be so bad if we did something with the waste other than throwing it in landfills, where it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Food accounts for 25% of methane produced from landfills, which emit 20% of methane overall. Something to chew on.
Copyright 2012 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.