The Circular Economy and Food Waste

Many people promoting a "circular economy" may wonder where food waste fits in. The circular economy advocates for the transformation of the world’s current systems of waste production from linear processes that permanently remove precious resources from the environment – through various disposal methods such as dumping or landfilling – to a cyclical model in which resources are designed, used, and recaptured without producing any waste. The good news is that addressing food waste is promoting a circular economy.

Unlike plastics, textiles, precious metals, and other materials which last longer than a product’s standard use phase or lifetime, food is intended to be completely consumed. Therefore, as much as possible, circular economy principles dictate a focus on preventing food from becoming waste in the first place. For food that is unavoidably lost from the human consumption chain, we should then treat food like these other materials whose “waste” streams represent valuable resources that are full of potential for circular transformation.


Three Principles of a Circular Economy —
and What They Mean for Food Waste

Impact Resources

Roadmap 2030

Roadmap to 2030

Food waste is a systemwide problem, and solving it will require a systemwide response. Our Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50% looks at the entire food supply chain and identifies seven key action areas to help guide the food system’s efforts over the next ten years. In line with the "Target-Measure-Act" framework for food waste reduction that’s been adopted around the world, the Roadmap to 2030 is a critical blueprint to help the food system take action. View the entire report on this website or download our "at-a-glance" version with key highlights.

Download Roadmap At-A-Glance PDF

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