How much did you waste today?
By admin August 5, 2016

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42.4_kg_of_food_found_in_New_Zealand_household_rubbish_bins(42.4 kg of avoidable food waste found in New Zealand household rubbish bins in 2014, excerpted from, original work by Love Food Hate Waste NZ)

Do you remember how much did you eat today? Do you remember how much food you threw into a trash can? According to the report from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 1.3 billion tons of edible food produced worldwide is wasted or lost each year. An article from The Guardian states that food such as fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any produce. The monetary value of the wasted food in 2012 is estimated at USD $936 billion, which is in the range of the GDP of countries such as Indonesia or the Netherlands. What is more surprising is that the value did not include environmental and social costs of the wastage. Speaking of environmental and social costs, the FAO estimates that the cost for each reaches around USD $700 billion and USD $900 billion respectively. The environmental and social costs particularly include: greenhouse gas emissions, increased water scarcity, soil erosion, risks to biodiversity using chemicals, loss of livelihoods due to soil erosion and adverse health effects due to pesticide exposure.

The food wasted in North America alone is similar to the entire net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-Eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year. In developing countries, 40 percent of losses occur at processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40 percent of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that overemphasize appearance. For instance, according to the research from FAO, the food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.

As briefly mentioned above, the food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources. In the United States, 30 percent of USD $48.3 billion worth of all food is thrown away each year. At the same time it is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water (Lundqvist et al., 2008). The energy that goes into all process dealing with the wasted food generates more than 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. If food-waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the U.S. and China.

It feels enervating to hear that one third of the food produced are trashed every year. We can find people starving all over the world yet enormous amount of food are being discarded and wasted. A UN report suggests three highest priorities in reducing the food waste: reducing food wastage in the first place, re-using within the human food chain, and recycling & recovery of food. It is our responsibility to be cognizant of the magnitude of the problem and maximize social efficiency.


For more information:

Food Wastage Footprint & Climate Change (2015)

Food Wastage Footprint: Fool Cost-Accounting (2014)

SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain

How Reducing Food Waste Could Ease Climate Change

Thanks for sharing !

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