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USDA: 30-40% of food supply in Michigan is lost to waste

Michigan's environment agency said more than a million tons of food are wasted every year.
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Michigan's environment agency said more than a million tons of food are wasted every year.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has announced a $100,000 dollar grant to tackle food waste. EGLE said the grant is in alignment with goals in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, to help reduce food waste and carbon emissions.

Each year, Michigan disposes of more than one million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream, according to EGLE. The agency said “food waste is the largest source of material disposed of in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities.”

The MI Healthy Climate Plan is the state’s road map to a carbon neutral economy by 2050. EGLE will work with several non-profit organizations in the state, along with an advisory council and national experts, to develop a Michigan Food System Waste Reduction Road Map.

Danielle Todd is the executive director of Make Food Not Waste, an environmental non-profit based in Detroit.

“When we landfill food, it breaks down and produces methane, which is one of the most harmful greenhouse gasses,” said Todd. “When we talk about the importance of acting on climate, and doing something as quickly as possible with solutions that we can implement right now, food waste is at the very top of that list.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 30 to 40% of Michigan’s food supply is lost to waste. Todd said this is also a waste of natural resources.

“When we landfill 30 to 40% of the food that we grow, we’re essentially wasting all of that water, the land, the fertilizers, everything that went into growing and moving that food, only to end up throwing it away,” said Todd.

Along with Make Food Not Waste, EGLE is working with several other non-profit organizations, along with national experts and an advisory council of stakeholders to develop the food waste road map.

“It’s basically an offshoot of the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan,” said Todd. “And in that climate plan, the state of Michigan stated that we need to cut our food waste in half by 2030, and the road map is going to be the blueprint for essentially how we’re going to do that.”

A.J. Evans is a senior at Michigan State University, studying journalism. He currently works as a newsroom assistant at Michigan Radio.