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  • Ryan Bowersox

The Food Recovery Hierarchy

According to the EPA, The term “wasted food” describes food that was not used for its intended purpose. Wasted good is managed in a variety of ways, such as donation to feed people, creation of animal feed, composting, anaerobic digestion, and sending to landfills or combustion facilities.

The Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions that organizations, individuals, and families can take to prevent and divert wasted food.


Both businesses and individuals can learn to effectively prevent the flow of wasted food by taking simple steps such as making grocery lists, inventorying supplies, and buying less.


While Americans dispose of millions of tons of food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 10.5% - about 13.7 million households - had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources during 2019. In many cases, the food tossed into our nation’s landfills is wholesome, edible food.


With proper and safe handling, anyone can donate food scraps to animals and help save farmers and companies money. It is often cheaper to feed animals food scraps rather than having them hauled to a landfill. Companies can also donate extra food to zoos or producers that make animal or pet food.


There is increasing interest in finding effective means to obtain biofuel and bio-products from wasted food. These options aim to alleviate some of the environmental and economic issues associated with wasted food while increasing the use of alternative energy sources.


Like yard waste, food waste scraps can also be composted. Composting these wastes creates a product that can be used to help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops, and improve water quality.

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