Americans think they throw away $640 of food each year, it's actually more

You're throwing away a lot more food than you think.

Americans estimate they waste about $640 in household food each year, according to a new survey by the American Chemistry Council.

But government figures say our trash bins are much fuller. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a family of four wastes closer to $1,500.

Further, each week more than half of American households throw away leftovers and groceries purchased but never used, according to the recent survey of 1,000 adults conducted by TNS Global.

53 percent toss out leftovers every week, the survey found, while 51 percent regularly pitch fresh food they’ve brought home but never touched.

That represents a lot of lost meals, but also a great deal of money.

Add in the amount of food wasted at stores and restaurants, and the costs skyrocket.

According to research by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), 31 to 40 percent of the American food supply goes to waste. That, the report says, costs Americans $161.6 billion annually and puts a drain on the environment because approximately 30 percent of the fertilizer, 35 percent of the fresh water and 31 percent of the cropland in the U.S. is used to grow food that is eventually wasted.

“Americans perceive themselves as wasting very little food, but in reality, we are wasting substantial quantities,” says Roni Neff, director of the Food System Sustainability & Public Health Program at CLF. “It happens throughout the food chain, including both a lot of waste by consumers, and a lot on our behalf, when businesses think we won’t buy imperfect food."