*Gt = Gigatonnes of CO2e
Farmers use a total of 4.5 billion hectares of land to grow the world's food
How much of that is thrown away worldwide?
To grow this wasted food, farmers use 250 trillion litres of water
This is equivalent to the yearly water use of the whole continent of Europe, four times over
95kg Consumer Waste
95kg is wasted per person.
We make portion sizes too large and cannot finish all the food.
Catering for every item on their menu at all times means there is a lot of waste.
Getting the food to our tables
19 kg per person
of waste happens while food is in transit to you. Perishable foods are not delivered in time or orders are cancelled en route.
Food factories and manufacturers
34 kg per person
A large section - 34kg - of that food waste happens in manufacturing facilities and factories. The ends of green beans and carrots are cut off. The heels of bread loaves for ready-made sandwiches are chucked.
Storage after harvest
30 kg per person
Another 30kg is lost just after it's harvested. Perishables are not kept at the right temperature. Orders are cancelled. Food is not kept securely.
100 kg per person
Over 100kg is lost on the farm. Male calves born to dairy cows are not always turned into meat. Fruit and vegetables that aren't the right size or shape (known as cosmetic standards). We have a system that needs over-production to meet standards and last-minute orders by supermarkets.
We can #solvefoodwaste. Here's how.
There are resources out there to help us. Here are a few solutions
Keep a food waste diary - you may be surprised how much food you do waste during the week, and how much waste you could avoid.
Be creative with recipes that use leftovers in soups, stir-frys, lasagnes, and frittatas
Consider alternatives to pre-packaged and supermarket food; buying food direct from producers often allows you more control over the amount you purchase
Use shopping lists to buy only what you will eat
Measure portions; take control of your plate, going back for seconds instead of over-filling
Freeze leftovers and meals that you won't have time to eat that week.
Ask supermarkets for simple date labels that don't confuse people into wasting food
Encourage local food businesses to donate surplus food to charities; this is happening all over the world, and some places are even requiring it (such as in France ) or incentivising it (as in Italy)
Make sure there are laws in place that protect those who donate food from liability, as America has done.
Encourage redistribution over waste disposal methods, as per the food waste hierarchy
Ask supermarkets and restaurants to measure and publish waste at all stages of the supply chain and make reduction targets. These steps can help them be more profitable while also reducing their environmental impacts.
As a consumer, you can influence what produce supermarkets buy by actively choosing the fruit and vegetables that look most unusual and 'ugly' - you can show supermarkets that ugly vegetables are just as tasty and good as the good-looking ones
Encourage restaurants to offer boxes for leftovers. Some people are too shy to ask.
Call on supermarkets to take responsibility for their farmers' waste, not cancel orders last-minute, and not reject good food just on shape or size basis
You can join gleaning projects,
Food surplus entrepreneurs make products out of surplus too – jams, crisps, smoothies, even cider, as is happening in Austria and all over Europe
In order to safeguard people and the planet, we need to reduce food waste.
From the food in your home to the farm where it is grown, together, we can #solvefoodwaste.
Are you already solving food waste in your city? Let us know! Your stories will help us gather food waste solutions.
FAO. 2011. Global food losses and food waste – Extent, causes and prevention. Rome
FAO. 2013. Food Wastage Footprint Impacts on natural resources. Rome