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About Don't Waste Food SC

Don't Waste Food SC is a collaborative campaign that brings together stakeholders from across the public and private sectors dedicated to sharing knowledge, coordinating resources and working together to help reduce food waste in South Carolina. Wasting food wastes resources. Through simple practices, these resources can be put to better use including feeding people in need, creating products and energy, diverting material from landfills and creating jobs.

The campaign is designed to:

  • increase the awareness of the economic, environmental and social impacts of wasted food; and
  • inspire individuals, businesses, schools, communities and others to take action through waste reduction, recovery and composting.

The goal of the campaign is to cut food waste in half in South Carolina by 2030.

To achieve this goal, the campaign provides outreach material, technical assistance, recommended practices and other tools to stakeholders across the supply chain. Stakeholders include food banks, food rescue organizations, faith-based communities, local and state government, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitality facilities, schools, composters, haulers and others.

For more information or to get involved, please email

Wasted Food Adds Up

Food waste is the No. 1 item thrown away by Americans accounting for 21.6 percent (38.4 million tons) of the nation's waste in 2014 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). South Carolina produced an estimated 641,916 tons of food waste in fiscal year (FY) 2016 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016).

It is estimated that as much as 40 percent of all the food grown and processed nationwide is never eaten - a loss valued at more than $160 billion annually according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While food waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the supply chain, a large portion is generated by consumers. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that on average each American discards about 20 pounds of uneaten food every month worth $28 - $43.

In September 2015, the USDA and the EPA announced the nation's first food waste reduction goal to cut food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. South Carolina has adopted the national goal.

Benefits of Food Waste Reduction

Feeding people, not landfills
One in eight Americans struggle with hunger - including nearly 800,000 South Carolinians - according to Feeding America. Food donation is a great way to provide surplus food to those who need it.

Feeding the economy
Jobs are created and sustained in each phase of organics recovery according to an Institute for Local Self-Reliance study. This job creation comes from businesses such as composting facilities and haulers as well as green enterprises that use compost and compost-based products. Most compost markets are regional or local - keeping the economic benefits at home.

Conserving resources
Did you know that throwing away one egg wastes 55 gallons of fresh water? Preventing food waste prevents wasted water, energy and land used to make the food. The growing, processing, packaging and transporting of food uses significant amounts of water, energy, resources, time and money - all lost if the food is not consumed.

Returning nutrients to the soil
If you cannot prevent, reduce or donate - compost. Sending food waste to a composting facility or composting at home can improve soil health and structure, increase water retention, support native plants and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

Saving money
A family of four throws away about $1,500 of food every year. Making it easier to prevent food waste can save families and businesses money through smart purchasing, improved food preparation and storage practices as well as lower energy and disposal costs.

Reaching recycling goals
Preventing food waste reduces the amount of material disposed of in landfills and helps South Carolina move towards its goal of recycling 40 percent of its waste by 2020.

The Food Recovery Hierarchy

Source Reduction Feed Hungry People Feed Animals Induistrial Uses Composting Landfill and Incineration

Source Reduction

The first step to prevent food waste is not to create it. Here are some simple steps you can take at home:

  • Be a smart shopper. Shop your refrigerator, cupboards and pantry before shopping at the store. Buy only what you need.
  • Plan your week. Make a shopping list based on how many meals you will eat at home.
  • Store food properly.
  • Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping.
  • Make new dishes from leftovers.

Feed Hungry People

Nearly 800,000 South Carolinians are food insecure - yet food waste is the No. 1 item we throw away (both nationwide and in South Carolina). Don't waste - donate.

  • Anyone can be a food donor. Farmers, supermarkets, wholesalers, restaurants and others can donate many non-perishable and unspoiled perishable foods to local food banks and shelters.
  • Check with your local food bank and food rescue organizations to find out what items they accept.
  • Donors are protected from liability under the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and state legislation.

Feed Animals

Using food scraps to feed animals by properly following all federal and state regulations reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and conserves resources - like all of the management options in the hierarchy. But feeding animals has an additional benefit in helping farmers and food waste generators save money.

Induistrial Uses

Wasted food - beyond feeding people and animals - can be used to create biofuels and other bio-products.

  • For example, anaerobic digestion is a process where microorganisms break down organic material such as food waste, manure and sewage sludge. Recycling wasted food through this process produces biogas - a fuel that can be used to power motor vehicles - and a soil amendment.
  • Fats, oil and grease can be turned into animal feed, cosmetics, soap and other products through a process called rendering.


Composting food waste along with other organics (e.g, yard trimmings) creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment the helps retain moisture, suppresses plant disease and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

  • Here's the dirt on composting. It's simple to do at home. All you need to get started is a little time, a little space, a bin and a basic understanding of the composting process.
  • Many businesses in South Carolina are beginning to compost either on site or through a vendor.

Landfill and Incineration

There's work to do.

  • South Carolina produced an estimated 641,000 tons of food waste in fiscal year 2016 (June 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016). Of that amount, only about 10,000 tons (about 1.5 percent) was recovered.
  • South Carolina has adopted the national goal set by the EPA and the USDA of cutting food waste in half by 2030.



The Food Recovery Hierarchy - created by the EPA - prioritizes actions individuals and organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each of the six tiers focuses on different management strategies. The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most economic, environmental and social benefits.

Click each level of the Food Recovery Hierarchy image to find out more information.