Environmental Impact


Food waste is a major environmental, economic, and ethical problem: The U.S. spends $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, and transporting food that is never eaten.

Nearly 80% of food waste comes from perishable foods, which include prepared fresh deli items, meats, fruits and vegetables, seafood, milk and dairy, and some grain products such as bread and bakery items.

Over 97% of food waste generated ends up in landfills where it contributes to greenhouse gases. In landfills, food waste has no oxygen and as a result, decomposes anaerobically instead of through aerobic decomposition. This anaerobic decomposition process generates methane, a harmful greenhouse gas which has 25 times the impact on climate change compared to carbon dioxide.

10.1 million tons of food is not harvested on U.S. farms, totaling roughly 63 million tons of annual waste.

Food waste solutions help us to avoid using agricultural water, fuel, and fertilizer to produce food that's ultimately going to waste!

Taking an innovative approach to program development, Food Lifeline has created programs designed to keep good food out of landfills.         

Food Lifeline’s retail recovery programs like Grocery Rescue and Seattle's Table gather and distribute millions of pounds of edible but unmarketable fresh produce, prepared, and perishable food from grocery stores, restaurants, and wholesalers. These programs offer our agencies a consistent source of healthy, fresh food, and keep millions of pounds of food out of the landfills.        

In 2011, Food Lifeline joined with Second Harvest Food Bank of the Inland Northwest to form Feeding Washington, a separate non-profit organization. Working closely with Washington’s agricultural community, Feeding Washington sources “unmarketable” produce on a statewide scale and helps supply its members with a greater quantity, variety, quality, and regularity of food donations at the lowest cost. Last year, Feeding Washington rescued 23.5 million pounds of fresh produce.

Food Lifeline’s Hunger Solution Center contains a variety of green features:

  • Rainwater on our campus is sequestered, filtered, and then returned to the natural watershed cleaner than it arrived. This helps protect and restore the Hamm Creek watershed
  • High efficiency KE2 controllers and defrost system for our 17,000 sq. ft. freezer/cooler
  • Energy efficient LED lighting throughout the building
  • Bottle fill drinking fountains
  • Over 800 native plants throughout our campus landscape 

Have questions? Please feel free to contact Food Lifeline's Green Committee: seagreencommittee@foodlifeline.org