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Wasted Food Energy

November 18, 2010

Reducing food waste could translate into big energy savings.


Wasted food, wasted energy…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Wasting food is wasting a huge amount of energy. This according to mechanical engineer Michael Webber at the University of Texas at Austin. He says about 10 percent of energy use in the U.S. goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping food. And a good chunk of that energy goes into food that gets thrown out somewhere along the way: about 2,000 trillion BTUs every year.

MICHAEL WEBBER (University of Texas at Austin):
This is hundreds of millions of barrels of oil; this is more energy than the country of Switzerland uses in an entire year for all purposes; this is more energy than we save by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs; or more energy than we produce from all the corn ethanol we make in a year as a nation.

Webber notes that even a modest reduction in food waste could make a big contribution to America’s energy conservation efforts. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.