The Impact of Food Waste and Why It Matters To Us

Most people don’t realize how much food we throw away each day—from uneaten leftovers to spoiled meats and produce. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we waste 30-40% of our food supply while millions of people struggle to have enough food on their tables. Research has shown that each person in the U.S. wastes approximately one pound of food each day, or 225 to 290 pounds each year — enough to feed roughly 2 billion people each year.

Food waste is a major issue in the United States

If we zoom out, we see that between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over $1 trillion. To put that in perspective, food waste represents 1.3% of the total GDP in the U.S. In fact, American’s discard more food than any other country, nearly 40 million tons. 

More than 80% of Americans discard consumable food simply because they misunderstand expiration labels such as “sell by,” “use by,” and “best by.” Alternatively, we tend to toss food scraps from the night before that can still be consumed because we didn’t properly assess how much food we actually needed.

The good news is that there are national initiatives underway to curb food waste and gain food recovery. As organizations make investments to alleviate these issues through strategic partnerships, there are enormous opportunities to help our communities.

Upside’s support for food rescue

Upsiders do good for the world every day through the Upside product. Since we built the platform in 2016, it has empowered users with cash back, merchants with proven profit, and both with the power to protect our planet. 

Just by using Upside for everyday fuel purchases, users and merchants drive commerce through the platform, and in turn we have used 1% of that revenue to offset carbon emissions. And over the past 5 years, that impact has been considerable. As our company grew and Upside became available in grocery stores and restaurants nationwide, it created the opportunity to expand our sustainability commitment beyond fuel-related initiatives. 

Today, Upside donates 1% of revenue from grocery and restaurant transactions to two major nonprofit organizations — Food Rescue US and MEANS Database. Both of these organizations divert otherwise-wasted food to feed those in need by connecting food donors, like restaurants or grocery stores, with food recipients, such as local food banks and community kitchens.

To date, Upside users have driven enough transactions through the platform to rescue 63,000 pounds of food. With our plans to significantly grow our footprint in 2022, this is just the beginning of what’s to come.

Upside users have driven enough transactions through the platform to rescue 63,000 pounds of food


“MEANS Database is thrilled to partner with Upside on food rescue initiatives across the country. Every restaurant and grocery transaction on the Upside platform supports our work to connect extra food with nearby nonprofits serving community members in need. MEANS is excited to be a part of this partnership and the impact we will be able to make,” said Renee Jean-Baptiste, grant writer of MEANS Database. 

"We appreciate the support of Upside in helping us deliver meals to individuals that are food insecure and reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills and negatively impacts our planet. Through our innovative food recovery technology, Food Rescue US is expanding rapidly and this support allows us to bring our movement to communities all throughout the country,” said Carol Shattuck, CEO of Food Rescue US.

Our sustainability initiatives are evolving

The massive growth that we’ve experienced as a company has allowed us to do more for our users and merchant partners, and work together to expand our impact on creating a cleaner planet. By the end of 2022, we expect our contributions to rescue over 2 million pounds of food and offset 6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. 

To make it even clearer just how much of an impact our users are making with their purchases through Upside, we’re working on ways to incorporate those metrics into their app experience in real-time. Stay tuned for those updates! 

We’re very proud of what we have done as an organization – putting us in company with other major brands focused on sustainability like Patagonia and Klean Kanteen – but we know there’s much more to do to help our communities thrive. 

If you’re interested in joining our mission-driven organization, we’re hiring!