More than 50 officials call on the EPA to help local governments cut food waste in their communities

On Tuesday, more than 50 local officials penned a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to phase out food waste disposal in landfills by 2040 to cut emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane, Reuters reported.The letter came in the wake of two reports from the EPA that spotlights America’s food waste crisis and its detrimental environmental consequences. More than one-third of the food produced in the U.S. is never consumed. Much of that waste ends up in landfills, where it generates astounding amounts of toxic methane.

Food waste causes 58% of the methane emissions that come from landfills, the EPA said in an Oct. 19 report that calculated those emissions for the first time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the EPA set a goal in 2015 to cut food waste in half by 2030. But very little progress has been made and the EPA has been criticized for “under-investing in the issue,” Reuters said.  

“Without fast action on methane, local governments will increasingly face the impacts of warming temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather events,” the officials said in their joint letter to the agency. They also called on the EPA to update landfill standards to “require better prevention, detection and reduction of methane emissions,” per ABC News. Landfills are responsible for about 14% of U.S. methane emissions, the EPA also found. Reuters added that compared to carbon dioxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, methane is 28 times stronger over a 100-year period.