The Lifecycle of Food Waste: Concordia Lexington Summit

ByGeraldine R. Pleasant

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Earlier this month, Rubicon’s Director of Circular Economy Solutions, Ryan Cooper, had the chance to speak at Concordia’s 2022 Lexington Summit in Lexington, Kentucky. He was joined by co-panelists Ryan Quarles of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Maggie Lyons, Managing Director of AgTech and Consumer Goods Business Unit for SAS Institute, and the session moderator, Concordia’s own Hanne Dalmut.

The conversation focused on the growth of our nation’s food waste, the actions that businesses can take to reduce its accumulation, and the ways to expand education surrounding this issue. For anyone looking to watch the discussion in its entirety, it can be found on Concordia’s YouTube channel, or below:

During the session, Ryan Quarles stated that nearly 40 percent of prepared foods go to waste in the United States, twice as much as in the 1970s. This translates to each person wasting roughly 20 pounds of food per month, incurring annual costs of $1,500 per household, or approximately $160 billion in total each year. Worldwide, the cost of food waste is $2.6 trillion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Quarles also spoke about his department’s efforts in encouraging businesses to donate excess food rather than throw it away. Many supermarkets will discard food items because they have blemishes or imperfections that make them less likely to sell, when in fact they are perfectly edible.

Rubicon’s own Ryan Cooper also urged businesses to change their packaging from plastic wraps or containers to something that is certified compostable. This way if the food does need to be thrown out, the whole product can go to a food waste facility without the need to worry about contamination.

Cooper also spoke about increasing education around the issue of food waste, and how we have the opportunity to instill these teachings in children from an early age both at home and at school. Many people are not fully aware of the guidelines for when their food is no longer safe to eat, noted Cooper, and because of this, they frequently end up throwing edible food away.

Keeping food waste out of landfills is critical for the health of our environment. If you have any questions, or you’re interested in learning more about Rubicon’s sustainability offerings, please reach out to [email protected].

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