When it comes to the waste that leaves our homes, plastic waste is obviously one of the key issues. But another very important area to consider is food waste.
You might be shocked to learn that around a 1/3 of all the food produced on our planet is lost or goes to waste. This amounts to around 1.3 billion tonnes each year. Food waste occurs at all stages of the food supply chain, from agricultural production, all the way through to individual households.
When food is wasted, it is not just a waste of the food itself. It is also a waste of the energy, water, land and other resources that went into producing it in the first place. These forms of waste are particularly concerning when we realise that:
- If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter (after China and the United States).
- A quarter of the world’s fresh water supply is used in growing food that is not eaten.
- An area the size of China is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- Food waste also represents a massive financial loss. The value of food wasted globally each year is $1 trillion.
All this waste is particularly shocking considering the numbers of people who are hungry, or malnourished around the world. There are nearly one billion hungry people in our world, and all of those people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food waste from the US, UK and Europe.
Of course, reducing food waste is not just for individuals. Governments, farmers and businesses also have to play a role. But in the developed world, over half of all food waste takes place in households.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some of the ways we can help to tackle the problem of food waste at home.