Food Waste

Residential Food Waste

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 30 million tons of residential food waste are dumped in landfills around the country every year making food waste the most abundant material in landfills by weight. Only 3% of U.S. food waste is diverted from landfills to be composted or used as waste to energy (WTE) fuel. The per person total of food waste comes to almost 200 pounds a year for every American.

The amount of food waste can be drastically decreased by starting your own backyard compost pile. The nutrient rich dirt from the home compost pile can be used to grow healthy backyard produce. For more information please visit the city's Composting and Yard Waste webpage.

Commercial Food Waste

As with residential waste, food waste makes up a large part of businesses and other large institutions refuse. This can be reduce in a variety of ways. Many organizations gladly accept food donations. Contact Second Harvest or the Emergency Food Shelf for information on food donations.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce runs the Minnesota Waste Wise program. The mission of Waste Wise is to provide assistances to businesses so they can be more environmentally sustainable, including reducing commercial food waste. For more information on managing food waste visit Ramsey County's Organics webpage.


There are many ways to be sustainable with your food choices, buying local is just one way you can make a difference. Packaging makes up to 30% of the household waste generated in Minnesota. By paying attention to how foods are packaged and sold in stores, the amount of trash generated can be reduced. Another way to decrease packaging waste is by buying dry materials such as rice, cereal, and nuts in bulk and bringing refillable dry goods containers. Buying in bulk also saves consumers money.