Food Waste

Food Waste



NWRA supports the use of anaerobic digesters in the processing of food and crop waste to produce energy. 


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that food waste in the United States accounts for between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This estimate corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010.

Food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generating a methane byproduct that is the third largest source of methane in the United States. This methane can be captured at the landfill and used to produce energy for facilities, trucks, and other uses. Anaerobic digesters are increasingly being used in waste processing for the purpose of energy production

“The Food Recovery Act,” as introduced during the 115th Congress, would have established grants and loans for facilities to install anaerobic digesters that use food or crop waste to produce energy. The legislation also included standardization of date labeling on food including the phrases “best if used by” to indicate food quality and “use by” to warn of food that may be unsafe to eat after a specified date.

The bill also specified that composting would be eligible for support under USDA’s conservation programs, established a Food Recovery Liaison within the USDA, expanded the liability protections for the donation of food, expanded the tax deduction for charitable contributions to include contributions of food inventory for nonprofit retail sales, and required companies that receive federal food service contracts to donate surplus food to nonprofit organizations that assist the hungry. It also provided funds for state storage and distribution costs under the Emergency Food Assistance Program. 

  • The USDA estimates that between 30-40 percent of the food supply in the United States is wasted.
  • Anaerobic digestion of food and crop waste quickly generates methane byproducts, which can be converted to energy and used in a variety of applications.
  • Food waste legislation should address its beneficial uses by increasing resources for loans and grants to adapt facilities for anaerobic digestion food waste-to-energy operations.

Updated January 2019.