Why does produce end up in Lexington’s landfill?

Sectors: Agriculture & Food, Environment & Energy

Council Districts: All of Lexington

Issue Sections

Quick Summary

  • Like much of the US, a significant part of Lexington’s waste stream consists of produce that ends up in city landfills, wasting ____ lbs per person per year, on average.
  • Beyond the financial impact of this food entering the landfill, one in five Kentucky children are food insecure–meaning they lack the ability to access fresh, healthy produce.
  • Programs across the country are tackling this problem through capturing edible produce and getting it to food banks/pantries, and providing municipal composting systems for food waste.

Why does this matter?

What is the context?

  • Excess produce is difficult for many farms and groceries to deal with because it spoils quickly.
  • Disposing of these food products in the traditional way–putting it in the trash, which goes to the landfill–has a single process and a relatively set fee (around $19.50 per ton).
  • Communities around the country have tackled these two streams of waste through different means:
    • Spoiled produce–programs exist to capture kitchen scraps, spoiled vegetables, and other types of food waste. These consist of government-run or independent composting programs and bans on routine/large-scale disposal.
      • Lexington created a composting pilot program in ___.
    • Edible produce can be saved from landfills through “gleaning”, where independent and government groups collect edible produce and re-route it quickly to food shelters and food banks.
      • Lexington has many local organizations working on this, including Glean KY.

How can I get involved?


  1. Feeding America - Food Insecurity in the United States
  2. ReFed - Kentucky Food Waste Policy
  3. Glean Kentucky - Why We Glean
  4. NRDC - Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
  5. Feeding America - What are the Connections Between Food Insecurity and Health?
  6. Modern Farmer - 7 Cities with Independent Composting Programs
  7. - Reduced Food Waste
  8. NRDC - Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level