Food waste is a major problem both in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Up to 40% of all food is wasted in the country. Food can be wasted in a variety of ways: large amounts can be allowed to spoil or be thrown out, foods that could be recycled or donated are not, and efforts are not made to mitigate food waste.
The website Lawnstarter ranked states on these three factors to determine which states are the worst food wasters.
Arizona is ranked as the state with the worst overall food waste. The state ranked fourth for the amount of food wasted and first for the lowest share of food wasted instead of being recycled or donated. While it has a somewhat decent food waste mitigation effort, ranking at the seventeenth worst, it was not enough to offset the other factors.
North Dakota ranks second among the worst states for food waste. Much of this is due to the lack of mitigation of food waste, where the state ranks eighth worse, and the amount of food wasted instead of being recycled or donated, where it is the third-worst state. North Dakota has the second-highest share of food wasted and the second-lowest share of food recycled.
Hawaii is a non-contiguous state, meaning it is separated from the rest of the continental United States, making it more difficult to obtain certain items. Strangely, this has caused the state to have a food spoilage problem, despite the cost of groceries and raw materials being higher. In the case of Hawaii, much of the explanation can be attributed to the higher cost of living and the citizens that this attracts. Hawaii is the most expensive place in terms of the cost of goods, which has increased the average debt considerably. Because Hawaii also lacks the infrastructure for a food donation or recycling program, It was the second-worst in that category.
Much of Nevada’s food waste is a result of the opulence and indulgence of Las Vegas. The city is filled with buffets of food, much of which goes uneaten and thrown away. It has the seventh-worst record for recycling or donating food. Although food waste mitigation efforts are currently ranked seventh-worst, people in Nevada are hoping to make a change. Composting is becoming a much more accepted practice, especially in and around Las Vegas.
Rounding out the top five of most wasteful states is Oklahoma. It is the sixth-worst state for both repurposing food waste through recycling or donating and methods of mitigating food waste. The state is tied for the second fewest number of composting facilities and fourth for the fewest food waste solutions providers.
On the other end of the spectrum, some states are doing a much better job at reducing their food waste. Massachusetts ranks as the least wasteful state. Massachusetts has the second-highest share of recycled food, the third-highest share of donated food, and the second-most composting facilities. It is clear that Massachusetts is making a concerted effort to reduce food waste across the state.