• The Earth & I Editorial Team

Composting Percentages Are Small in the US

Americans throw away millions of tons of food waste every year, much of it going to landfills. Imagine the benefits if all of it were composted.


Composting Food Scraps

Composting Food Scraps image
  1. Compostable food scraps and yard waste make up more than 30% of what Americans throw away.

  2. In 2018, 35 million tons of food scraps went into US landfills.

  3. The residential sector generated about 25 million tons of that waste—about 66% of residential food waste.

  4. Fifteen percent of residential food waste was burned, i.e., to generate energy, and 15% was sent to sewage or wastewater treatment.

  5. The EPA estimated that only 3% of residential food waste was composted in 2018, or 2.6 million tons of food scraps.

  6. Curbside composting collection programs served 6.1 million US households in 2017.

  7. Compost enriches soil, holds moisture in soil, suppresses plant diseases and pests, lowers the need for chemical fertilizers, encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil, and reduces methane emissions (from landfills).

Sources: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-food-waste-infographic.pdf, https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

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