Biden-Harris Administration Announces National Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste and Recycle Organics

Jun 13, 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the White House announced the National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics as part of President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to tackle climate change, feed people, address environmental justice, and promote a circular economy.

The strategy released today provides tangible goals that the U.S. government partners along with retailers and consumers can work toward to help further prevent the loss and waste of food, increase recycling of food and other organic materials to support a more circular economy for all, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, save households and businesses money, and build cleaner, healthier communities. This strategy is also a deliverable in the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022.

“USDA is committed to reducing food loss and waste, facilitating many programs and activities to engage farmers, producers, communities and businesses in this collective effort,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This National Strategy charts a course to reduce our nation’s food loss and waste by 50% by 2030, and I am encouraged by the actions outlined for USDA and our federal partners. Everyone has a role to play in reducing food loss and waste, and I hope that these federal commitments will inspire and catalyze action in the private sector and communities around the U.S.”

“Each year food produced in the United States ends up in landfills, instead of on American dinner tables. This waste hurts our economy, raises the cost of food, and contributes to climate pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The National Strategy we are announcing today provides a comprehensive set of actions that EPA and our partners at USDA and FDA will take to reduce waste and protect our environment while improving food security and saving money for families and businesses.”

“The FDA is committed to completing the actions outlined in the National Strategy that incentivize and encourage food loss and waste prevention and organics recycling,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Along with the FDA, USDA and EPA efforts, U.S. consumers and retailers play an important role in meeting the National Strategy’s goal of reducing food loss and waste by 2030. As part of the release of this strategy, the FDA has made important resources available to guide, support, and accelerate their food loss and waste activities including the 2022 Food Code, Tips to Reduce Food Waste and the Food Loss and Waste Social Media Toolkit. We encourage all stakeholders to take advantage of these resources as we work together to reduce food loss and waste.”

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced the strategy during his keynote remarks at the ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit in Baltimore, Md. The summit is the largest national food waste event of the year, bringing together food businesses, funders, solution providers, innovators, policymakers, nonprofits, and more to drive the adoption of food waste solutions. He spoke about how the strategy advances USDA’s goals to enhance agriculture’s ability to address global food and nutrition security, manage the consequences of climate change, and engage in innovative practices.

Recent EPA research shows that 58% of methane emissions released to the atmosphere from landfills are from food waste. Each year in the U.S., food loss and waste create potent greenhouse gas pollutants equal to the emissions of 60 coal-fired power plants. The strategy aims to prevent and divert organic waste from landfills to reduce GHG emissions and highlights opportunities, especially where there are environmental justice concerns, to build community-scale organics recycling infrastructure, reduce pollution, and create jobs.

The strategy drives progress toward the National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal to reduce the loss and waste of food by 50% by 2030. In 2021, EPA updated its U.S. baseline to align the 2030 goal with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, which aims to reduce the amount of food from food retail, food service, and households that has been removed from the human supply chain. In addition, this goal supports the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. Because methane is both a powerful GHG and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions to food loss and waste would have a rapid and significant effect on reducing GHG emissions.

The strategy highlights four objectives:

Objective 1: Prevent food loss.

Objective 2: Prevent food waste.

Objective 3: Increase the recycling rate for all organic waste.

Objective 4: Support policies that incentivize and encourage the prevention of food loss and waste and organics recycling.

For each objective, the strategy highlights actions that USDA, EPA, and FDA could take. Some of the priority USDA actions include:

  • Investing $2.5 million from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to rigorously test and measure the effectiveness of different consumer messages to encourage households to reduce food waste, in preparation for a National Wasted Food Prevention Campaign.
  • Funding a new NIFA $1.5 million Center for Research, Behavioral Economics, and Extension on Food Loss and Waste to create meaningful momentum on food loss and waste prevention among land-grant universities, their partners and external stakeholders.
  • Funding research and development on new food loss and waste innovations, such as innovative new packaging technology and cultivars to extend the shelf life of food and prevent loss.
  • The Risk Management Agency (RMA) is working with farmers, crop insurance agents, and gleaning organizations to encourage the reduction of on-farm food loss.

The strategy also highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in reducing food loss and waste. On June 1, the three agencies renewed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), which is comprised of the Consumer Brands Association, FMI – The Food Industry Association, and the National Restaurant Association. This public-private partnership will explore actions to reach industry sectors, through efforts such as targeted industry resources, tools, and guidance.

Additionally, USDA and EPA have been actively growing the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions pledge, through which food business have publicly committed to reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030 in their U.S. operations. 2030 Champions include industry giants such as Starbucks, Hilton, and Kroger. Today, USDA is also releasing the Milestones Report (PDF, 2.0 MB), which highlights the food loss and waste-reducing actions taken by some of the 2030 Champions and the impact of these actions.

The National Strategy builds on USDA’s prior work to reduce food loss and waste, including over $60 million in investments and activities that USDA has undertaken to reduce food loss and waste, including those announced in May.

For more information about Food Loss and Waste Reduction activities visit:

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

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