A recent photo of Starbucks’ food waste sparked frustration. The image shows 30 sandwiches, a stack of cookies, and three snack packs left to be thrown away.
Food waste is a global challenge that has a significant impact on the changing climate. According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one-third of the world’s total food ends up as waste every year.
In the U.S. alone, the amount of food waste each year is equal to the annual carbon dioxide pollution of 42 coal-fired power plants. This staggering fact does not even account for the additional methane gas released by food decay in landfills.
While many commenters were disappointed by the image, some tried to understand why coffee shops like Starbucks waste so much food.
“What is the reasoning behind throwing it out instead of letting employees take it?” asked one user.
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In response, Redditors discussed the complexity of combatting significant food waste.
“Lots of the food is also not safe enough to eat after some periods,” wrote one user. “So it’s a bit of real concern but also laziness to make different guidelines for different foods.”
One of the main difficulties when donating leftover food is ensuring it’s still safe for human consumption. Some grocery stores have found ways to donate food before it expires.
For example, when the power went out in Trader Joe’s, the store donated all the food in the refrigerators to customers already shopping. This immediate action ensured that the products were still safe for customers to take home.
In a similar case, a Kroger in Arkansas teamed up with a local food bank to distribute food after a massive storm caused a power outage. Within two days, the Arkansas Food Bank saved and delivered 76,833 pounds of food.
When food can’t be donated, composting is a great solution for reducing food waste.
One former employee commented, “I worked for Starbucks for years and it made me sick throwing it away every night.”
“I’m surprised they haven’t made an arrangement with some pig farmer for all that stuff,” wrote one Redditor. “When we had pigs we had an arrangement with a donut shop.”
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