Food Waste Is Worth Billions
It’s Loaded with Methane
The world’s most prosperous country sadly wastes more food than any nation ever.
But today, increasing numbers of countries and, in the US, states and municipalities are learning there’s money in food waste, bypassing a landfill to produce renewable energy.
And governments, including federal, state and municipal, are hustling to move food waste from being a negative to a positive via substantial tax breaks.
Companies and individuals interested in learning more about their place in the renewable natural gas (RNG) industry – now growing at 40% annually — must attend Appalachian RNG Conference III – Spring 2024.
The one-day program, slated for April 18, will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe, south of Pittsburgh. The conference is developed and presented by the H2-CCS Network and Shale Directories.
“Our conference, the third in a series of RNG conferences, focuses on creating regional awareness of local opportunities to profitably address climate change. It’s exciting to be part of these projects which are adding jobs and revenue to local communities,” said Tom Gellrich, CEO and Founder of the RNG Directory.
Experts project the use of food waste to produce RNG is the fastest growing feedstock to produce energy – and certainly the source where the most work is under way to reduce this particular waste and thus the volume dumped in landfills.
Just how much food do Americans waste? The US discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 60 million tons — 120 billion pounds — annually.
That’s roughly 40% of the entire US food supply, and equates to 325 pounds of waste per person, according to Recycle Track Systems (RTS). Food is the single largest component consuming space in American landfills, comprising 22% of municipal solid waste (MSW).
Food wasted in America is valued at approximately $218 billion, RTS reported.
While reducing food waste across America is growing, experts say the waste-to-energy industry must speed up to help tackle climate change. Wasting food wastes the water and energy it took to produce it and generates greenhouse gases — 11% of the world’s emissions — including methane, carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which contribute to global warming, RTS reports.
According to the World Wildlife Federation, the production of wasted food in America is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars.
“Reducing food loss and waste is one of the most impactful actions we can take to reduce climate pollution and build a circular economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a recent statement. “Working together with our partners at USDA and FDA, we will take actions to significantly reduce waste and the pollution that comes with it while improving our food system and boosting the economy.”
At the federal level, H.R. 2448 allows a tax credit through 2033 equal to $1 times the number of gallons of renewable natural gas or gasoline gallon-equivalent of nonliquid RNG for use as a fuel in a motor vehicle or motorboat or for use as aviation fuel.
“H.R. 2448 puts RNG on equal tax footing as other ‘renewable fuels’ and RNG has by far the lowest CI (carbon intensity) score,” according to Gellrich. “This has been debated for a number of years, but the stars are aligning for 2024 election year passage.”
Landfills are increasingly facing community resistance. States and municipalities are mandating huge landfill volume reductions in organic waste, as much as 75%.
Several states nationwide are moving to curb food waste, according to RTS. Legislators in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont have passed laws that restrict the amount of food waste going to landfills.