ReFED launches online data hub to help address food waste in US

ReFED launches online data hub to help address food waste in US

According to ReFED’s Insights Engine, the total amount of food waste per capita has decreased two percent over the last three years.

February 4, 2021

A new online Insights Engine launched by ReFed, a national nonprofit focused on ending food loss and waste across the food system, has revealed that the total amount of food waste per capita has decreased two percent over the last three years.

While this demonstrates that food waste reduction efforts are starting to make a difference, the organization says more needs to be done to achieve the United States’ national goal to reduce food loss and waste by 50 percent by the year 2030—especially as the continued changes to the food system from COVID-19 make avoiding food waste even more difficult.

Accompanied by ReFED’s “Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50 percent,” the Insights Engine is a centralized data and solutions hub with the information and insights needed to take meaningful action to address the problem.

According to the Insights Engine, in 2019 35 percent of food went uneaten or unsold—the equivalent of throwing away $408 billion dollars, or 1.9 percent of U.S. GDP. ReFED estimates that an annual investment of $14 billion over the next ten years to implement prevention, rescue, and recycling solutions can reduce food waste by 45 million tons annually.

That investment would result in $73 billion in annual net economic benefit for the country, avoid 75 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year (equivalent to 16 million cars), save 4 trillion gallons of water (more than used by the entire state of Colorado), rescue the equivalent of 4 billion meals annually for the 50 million Americans who are food insecure, create 51,000 jobs over ten years and achieve the 2030 reduction goal.

The Insights Engine also provides a comprehensive review of more than 40 food waste solutions to address these issues and more based on their impact potential (net economic benefit, food waste diverted, greenhouse gas emissions reduced, meals recovered and jobs created). ReFED says it offers a granular analysis of the causes and impacts of food waste in the United States at a national level and by state and food industry sector, along with the investment required and the potential return on investment for food waste reduction solutions.

“Food waste is a solvable problem, and we’re excited to say that we’re seeing progress. But we need a massive acceleration in order to achieve meaningful change,” said Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED. “The good news is that a range of impactful solutions already exist, and we’ve analyzed dozens of them—from the simplest to the most complex. With these new tools, we're taking the movement from a paper road atlas to Google maps, allowing us to see where we are and the next moves to get us to where we want to be."

“As philanthropic funders and commercial investors, we have an opportunity to solve food waste. And we have lots of choices. We can do it philanthropically, we can do it commercially, we can do it in our own backyard, or we can do it nationally. The opportunity is ours, and what an exciting time to make it happen,” added Jesse Fink, a ReFED founder and trustee for The Fink Family Foundation.