How Food Waste is Hurting Our Wallets, Our Environment, and Our Palates
Also notoriously referred to as the world’s dumbest environmental problem, food wastage is a serious global concern. Food waste is a tragic waste of resources. When we waste food, we are also wasting all of the resources that went into producing and transporting that food, including water, energy, and labor.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about one-third of all the food produced globally is lost or wasted each year. This amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food, worth about $1 trillion.
Food waste has serious economic and social consequences. In developing countries, food loss and waste can mean lost income for farmers, reduced food security for communities, and increased food prices for consumers.
Top Food wasting countries (Source: World population review website) :
China: 91 Million Tonnes
India: 68 Million Tonnes
USA: 19 Million Tonnes
Japan: 8 Million Tonnes
Germany: 6 Million Tonnes
France: 5 Million Tonnes
UK: 5 Million Tonnes
Where does it happen?
Food wastage happens at every stage of the food supply chain, from farm to fork, in a fascinating but often heartbreaking way.
At the farm level
Food waste can happen due to poor weather conditions, pests, and diseases that damage crops. Imagine a farmer who has spent months tending to their crops, only to see them ruined by a sudden hailstorm or a swarm of locusts.
Food can be damaged or spoiled due to poor packaging or temperature control. Imagine a shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables sitting in a hot and humid truck for days, slowly deteriorating and losing their freshness.
At the retail level
Food waste can happen due to overproduction, expiration dates, and aesthetic standards. Imagine a supermarket where perfectly good produce is thrown away because it is not "pretty" enough or because it did not sell quickly enough.
Food waste can happen due to portion sizes, leftovers, and confusion over expiration dates. Imagine a family who buys too much food at the grocery store, only to let it spoil in the fridge because they cannot eat it all before it goes bad.
Food waste and climate change:
Food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO estimates that food waste generates about 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is roughly 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
Handling food waste has a crucial hit on the contribution of greenhouse gases. A lot of Carbon dioxide is released in the environment by transportation and storage alone. Furthermore, rots in landfills where it produces methane which is 4 times more deadly than carbon dioxide in the list of greenhouse gases.
“Based on the new data, global food waste contributes 10% of our global greenhouse gas emissions, not the 8% that was previously thought, and equivalent to nearly twice the annual emissions produced by all the cars driven in the US and Europe.” (Source: World Wide Fund For Nature website)
Food wastage amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food, worth about $1 trillion each year, which is equivalent to one-third of all the food produced globally is lost or wasted. India’s wastage accounts to approximately 68 millions tonnes of food, and ranks second after China. Every stage of the food supply chain contributes to this alarming number and is affecting all the stakeholders of this supply chain.
Food wastage is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions according to the FAO, generating about 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.