According to the 2021 Food Waste Index(1) published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Food Waste from households, retail establishments and the food service industry totals 931 million tonnes of food in the world each year.
This amount is equivalent to 23 million fully-loaded 40-tonne trucks, or enough to line up and circle the planet seven times over. This image leaves nobody indifferent.
Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the SDG #12(2) is focusing on Responsible Consumption and Production. The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for cutting in half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030.
What is Food Loss and Waste?
September 29 is the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Food loss and waste refers to all products intended for human consumption being discarded or left to spoil throughout the food system: during harvest, production, storage, processing, transportation, distribution, retail and consumption...
Food loss happens along the supply chain as food travels from farms to wholesale markets.
Food waste occurs at retail and consumer level.
It has been estimated that one third of the world’s food goes to waste.
How much is wasted locally?
In Hong Kong, of the 10,800 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste disposed of at landfills each day in 2020, 30% were food waste (3) (more than 3,250 tonnes daily), which is more than paper (24%) and plastics (21%). It has decreased by 2.9% as compared to 2019. It is equivalent to 120kg of food waste disposed by each person in just a year!
In the US, Food Waste is also the largest component of Municipal Solid Waste, at 22%. That’s around 219 pounds of waste per person per year, equivalent to throwing more than 650 average sized apples right into the trash bin.
What is the impact of food waste?
By wasting food, we also waste all the energy, water, natural resources, labor it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it.
Wasted food in landfills is estimated to be responsible for 10% of greenhouse emissions worldwide (4).
According to the FAO, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitting country in the world, after China and the USA.
Tips to Reduce Food Waste
Let’s start your sustainable journey today to reduce food waste together!
Here are a few tips:
Love food, not waste: pay attention to the food you can avoid throwing away.
Take What You Need, Eat What You Take! No need to have a full plate if you’re not going to finish it. You can always order smaller portions. Buy only what you need!
If you don't eat it all, share it, freeze it, store it for leftovers for another meal or take it home! Be creative with leftovers.
Plan your meals, make a shopping list and organize your fridge: it is the best way to avoid discarding some food left behind.
Reducing food waste is a multiple win. It cuts greenhouse gas emissions, lowers your carbon footprint, preserves water, energy and other natural resources, enhances the availability of food and thus reduces hunger, saves money…
Fighting food waste is a powerful way to fight climate change.
Let’s stop the waste today! Let’s reduce food waste together! We can all do our part every single day!