The United Nations Wants to Cut Food Waste in Half by 2030

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At the Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations General Assembly.
At the Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Timothy A. Clary

During today’s General Assembly, the United Nations agreed to set a goal of cutting per-capita retail and consumer food waste in half by 2030. The target is one of 17, all set for 2030, that make up the Sustainable Development Goals, which deals with everything from clean energy to gender equality and climate change.

Food waste has become a major topic in the news this year, even becoming a focal point for this year’s Milan expo — and for good reason: Americans throw away 40 percent of their food, according to the United Nations, and the EPA has previously said that food makes up 20 percent of landfills in this country. What this amounts to is a colossal squandering of resources, with much broader implications than just rotting sandwiches. Twenty-five percent of the water in the United States goes into wasted food, while an astounding 28 percent of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce food that never gets eaten.

Just last week the Obama administration set its own target for reducing food waste, also 50 percent by 2030, and others have been fighting waste in smaller ways, but the scale and ambition of this goal is unprecedented.

The United Nations Wants to Cut Food Waste in Half by 2030