The Massive Problem of Food Waste and why we need to be concerned!
Did you relish your last meal? Do you remember the taste and aroma of every bite?
Now, do you remember how much leftover you trashed out of your plate?
Well, we may not find it as a big deal, but here is a perspective: more than 820 million people go to bed on an empty stomach each night.
Wasting food is quite common, and it is a massive issue. Let us run over some facts to state the seriousness of the problem.
1) 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, which is 30% of all the food globally produced and is enough to feed 3 billion people. In fact, food and green waste make up 44% of the total global waste.
2) 1.4 billion hectares of agricultural land is required to produce the 1.3 billion tonnes of lost or wasted food. This area used is 28% of the world's total agricultural land- that is a combined size of the United States, India, and Egypt.
3) 25% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to produce 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted every year.
This wasted freshwater supply covers 250 square kilometres, equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
Just imagine, if we could save this water, it could be used by 9 billion people!
4) 4.4 gigaton of global greenhouse gas emissions produced annually is from food loss and waste. That is roughly about 6% of the total greenhouse emissions.
5) If “Food Waste” were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of CO2 after China and the US.
6) In low- and middle-income countries, food and green waste contribute 50% of the total waste generated.
7) In low-income countries, most of the food loss happens during production, handling, storage, and processing. This is the opposite in the case of high-income countries; where most of the food loss and waste is generated at the consumers' end.
According to the World Resources Institute, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 83% of food is lost during production, handling/storage and processing, while just 5% is wasted by consumers.
While in North America and Oceania, 61% is wasted by consumers, and about 32% is lost in the earlier stages of production, handling, storage, and processing.
8) In Europe, 40-60% of fish caught are discarded or never eaten; because they do not meet the quality standards of supermarkets.
Food waste is a huge problem, especially, when every year, more than 820 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment. And every day, 25,000 people die because of hunger, out of which about 10,000 of them are children.
While the habits of end-consumer play a big role in the wastage of food, there are several other steps where food gets wasted. As per reports of the Food and Agricultural Organization by the United Nations, around 14% of the total wasted food is lost between harvesting and retail in various processes at the farm level, storage, and transportation.
Food lost at farm level: Several factors contribute to food loss occurring at the farm level such as adverse climatic conditions, harvesting and handling processes, food left unharvested in a field or not sold by distributors. The food losses that make up at the farm level consume plenty of water, land, fertilizer, and labour.
Food wasted at the storage level: Inadequate storage facilities at warehouse, transit etc contribute to the shorter shelf life of produce and a significant amount of food waste every year. For example, many products require maintenance of optimal temperature, humidity, packaging conditions, handling etc.
Food wasted during transit: Supply chain systems including logistics play an important role in preserving the quality of food transported. Transportation over long-distance requires time-sensitive delivery timelines and maintenance of parameters effectively to prevent food loss and waste.
Food wasted at the retail: Fresh produce is the single largest contributing sector to food waste at retail supermarkets due to their limited shelf life, variability in demand and meeting aesthetic standards of consumers. The direct causes are linked to over-stocking and over-merchandising of perishable items.
At restaurants and hotels, food is being produced in large batches to minimize cost which in turn, generates more waste as compared to cooking in small batches. The bigger problem is caused by restaurants that serve buffets and plus-one deals that encourage consumers to buy more than required, which results in generating more leftover on plates.
Food wasted at the consumer level: Food wasted at the consumer level is often due to over-purchasing and over-preparing than necessary and poor in-home storage. These items ultimately end up being in the trash cans instead of serving plates.
Although food wasted at the consumer level is significantly lesser than at other levels, it is not a good reason to waste food needlessly. If we as consumers become more mindful and aware of our habits, we can contribute to making this planet, a little better.
We urge our readers to consciously try every day to minimise wastage of food.
We would love to hear from our readers the steps you take to minimize food waste.
At Earthzy Technology Solutions, with our patented product, RecycloBin, we help individuals and businesses to reduce the volume of waste (including food waste) by six to ten times, thereby addressing the issue of waste volume reduction and segregation at source.
If you are interested to know more about our solutions, please visit this page.