Misleading expiration dates compound the serious problem of food waste in the U.S. Fixing food waste could greatly reduce emissions.
The Harvard report recommended making “sell by” dates invisible to consumers again, replacing them with a “reliable, coherent, and uniform consumer-facing dating system” that would give consumers the information they need, and nothing more.
Misleading expiration dates compound the serious problem of food waste in the U.S. Americans throw out about 40% of their food and decomposing food releases methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon. Seventeen percent of U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, according to the EPA. And 2 percent of all U.S. energy goes to produce food that will be wasted.
Food waste globally emits so much in the way of greenhouse gases that if it was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world. Fixing food date labeling could go a long way towards reducing the U.S. contribution to those emissions.