Texans Produce 5.7M Tons of Food Waste

Household food waste
Household food waste | Image by Linda's photography/Shutterstock

Despite being on the decline, there were millions of tons of surplus food in the Lone Star State in 2022, the most recent year the information is available. Data from the nonprofit ReFED, released in December 2023, says Texas produced roughly 5.7 million tons of food waste, according to Axios.

Surplus food is any food that ends up uneaten or unsold by people and businesses. It results in the squandering of the food itself and the resources used to produce it.

Across the country, nearly a quarter (24%) of municipal landfill input is food waste. It also contributes to 6.1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The average person in the U.S. wastes $759 on uneaten food each year. During the year, people and businesses in the United States did not eat or sell 88.7 million tons of food, equivalent to almost 145 billion meals valued at nearly half a trillion dollars ($473 billion).

Over half of food waste in Texas came from residential households in 2022. In second place, food service represented roughly 23% of the state’s food waste that year, followed by manufacturing at 13%, retail at 6%, and farms at just under 5%.

To help reduce food waste, ReFED recommends the following five strategies.

  • Plan ahead: Don’t purchase groceries without a plan, and consider “recipe trios” that use up food that you buy in bulk. For example, a roast chicken for dinner on Monday can be shredded for tacos on Tuesday.
  • Store food properly: Use optimal storage to keep your food fresh.
  • Leverage your freezer: Consider using your freezer to extend the life of your foods, like meats.
  • Understand the labels: “Best if used by” dates typically refer to quality, not safety. This means you can often eat the food safely after the date has passed.
  • Eat down: Plan weekly “eat down” days where you finish leftovers and excess food in your fridge.

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