The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture have picked General Mills (NYSE:GIS) as a "founding partner" for the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, the company announced Tuesday.

The new initiative aims to reduce food loss and waste, recycle discarded material for new uses (such as animal feed or compost), and recover healthy food for human consumption. Retailers, food manufacturers, and government agencies are among the groups that will be encouraged to participate.

According to the EPA and USDA, food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly 30% to 40% of the food supply. "In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs," they said in their press release. "The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, more than an average month's worth of food expenditures."

General Mills' chief sustainability officer Jerry Lynch said the company places a deep importance on "reducing and eliminating food waste at every opportunity. ... Food waste sent to landfill is the biggest opportunity for our industries to address hunger in America and lessen our environmental footprint."

General Mills previously served as co-chair of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance in 2011. The company says it has donated $250 million in food worldwide since 1999, and has decreased its overall food waste generation by 40% since 2005.


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