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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

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Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Awareness of Wasted Food in Johnson County

More than likely, you have experienced food scraps from cooking a recipe or accidently forgetting the broccoli in the refrigerator which has unexpectedly developed an unpleasant smell. Food waste is a reality for most households in our country.

In Johnson County food waste makes up roughly 26 percent of what is going into our trash bins. There are many solutions to reduce, repurpose or eliminate food waste. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out a new Wasted Food Scale in October 2023. The new graphic is designed to help the consumer prevent and divert food waste from the landfill, incinerator, or the drain. The graphic was changed from the former food waste hierarchy to a drain to try and convey the importance of options to mitigate and slow down the amount of food waste produced.

epa scale

The eleven Wasted Food Pathways represented in the new graphic range from most preferred as prevention of food wasted by conscientious production practices, buying awareness, and serving only what is needed to the less preferred method of sending it down the drain. 

  1. Prevent Wasted Food
  2. Donate
  3. Upcycle
  4. Feed Animals
  5. Leave Unharvested
  6. Anaerobic Digestion with Beneficial use of Digestate/Biosolids
  7. Compost
  8. Anaerobic Digestion with Disposal of Digestate/Biosolids
  9. Apply to Land
  10. Landfill
  11. Incinerate

Visit the EPA website for more details here: Wasted Food Scale | US EPA

When searching for local resources, also in 2023, the Kansas City Food Wise website was launched to tackle the food waste challenge locally.

kc food wiseHow can you take action today? Visit Take Action | Kansas City Food Wise (kcfoodwise.org) and discover how to plan, shop, store, prep/eat, share, and compost. “Kansas City Food Wise originated from a Sustainable Materials Management Grant provided by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7 to the Mid-America Regional Council. The goal of the grant was to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and sent to landfills in the Kansas City region by creating:

  • A regional food waste action plan. 
  • A website to facilitate food loss and waste reduction among organizations, stakeholders and community members.
  • A consumer education campaign that will raise awareness about food waste, provide food waste reduction information and drive users to the website.

While this project aims to reduce food waste, it is also laying the groundwork to address a much broader range of issues that will help make a sustainable food system a vital part of our metropolitan area’s future. Food waste reduction is the starting point, but a sustainable food system in the Kansas City region is the ultimate goal.”  About Us | Kansas City Food Wise (kcfoodwise.org)

There are many tools, topics, and resources to help you start or continue the journey of reducing food waste.

Reducing our wasted food will take a multidisciplinary approach from individual households, producers, industry, etc. No matter where you fall in this spectrum taking time to think about our consumption, buying, storing, cooking, and overall awareness can create a difference in our community.