If Food Waste Were a Country, It Would Be the 3rd Largest Contributor to Global GHGs After China

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Globally, about a third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. A sad fact, in an age where almost a billion people go hungry. Food loss or food waste is the decrease of food in later stages of the food supply chain intended for human consumption; for example, harvested bananas that fall off a truck are considered food loss. While food that is fit for human consumption, but not consumed because it is left to spoil or discarded by retailers or consumers is food waste – this may be due to rigid or misunderstood date stamp rules, improper storage, buying or cooking practices.

If food waste were a country, the carbon footprint associated with the production, processing and landfill emissions would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gasses, behind China or the US. Food waste occurs in every country, at every stop along the supply chain, and what happens in one country or in one industry directly impacts many countries and industries. From farming to consumption, each private and public entity, including the consumer, plays a critical role in enhancing food security and reducing food waste.

Reducing food losses and waste is gaining international interest and action. Governments, research institutions, producers, distributors, retailers and consumers all have different ideas about the problem, the solutions and the ability to change. Sealed Air’s Karl Deily recently published an insightful article about this issue, noting we are all becoming increasingly disconnected from our food sources. He dispels three keys myths around food loss and waste, and offers solutions to take action against hunger.

Deily flags up that in developed nations, nearly 40 percent of food waste occurs at retail and consumer levels. A lack of consumer awareness around food labels, a move away from processed food to fresh food and consumer reluctance to reuse otherwise “ugly” or “scrap” food is partly to blame. For many developing nations, food waste occurs even before the product reaches a processing facility. Its consumer demands that determine what retailers offer, which drives decision-making all the way back to the farms.

He rejects the idea that we need to grow more food to end hunger, citing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who says if just one-fourth of the food lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would feed 870 million hungry people in the world.

Lastly, Deily ousts the myth of packaging, which is said to be more damaging to the environment than wasted food instead, he says food packaging plays a vital role in reducing food waste. As discarded food rotting in landfills, emits methane, a strong greenhouse gas; the FAO says globally, the effect of processing the food that is wasted is equal to about 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide!

It’s clear that we are all responsible for the issue of food waste and our individual actions make a difference.

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