Producers, manufacturers and retailers

Milk aisle in a grocery store

Homes account for 37% of wasted food, meaning the other 63% comes from farms (21%), manufacturers (14%), and consumer-facing businesses (28%) such as grocers and restaurants. 

At the production level, it is often not economically feasible to harvest the entire crop, especially the produce with imperfections, and it is left in the fields and wasted. Manufacturers tend to waste edible byproducts that can be used to make other products instead of being wasted. 

Retail food waste often occurs for cosmetic reasons and concern about food labels. A majority of waste from food service businesses is due to plate waste from customers who do not eat all that they are served. Tools such as the EPA WARM Reduction Model and the ReFED Solutions Database provide solutions, as well as economic impacts of reducing food waste.

Reducing the waste

Much of the food that is removed from shelves in retail settings or excess in restaurants is still edible. Donation of this food benefits the community and is protected under the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Donation benefits community members and can save money by reducing tipping fees.

Offering and encouraging the use of take-out containers in restaurants can help reduce consumer plate waste. It is best to use compostable products, which are labeled as BPI Certified. Even if your business does not have a composting process, compostable materials typically use less resources to create and are more environmentally friendly.