The World Resource Institute reports that the world wastes over 1 billion tonnes of food annually. This waste equals 24% of the world’s food supply, while 1 in 10 people worldwide don’t have enough food.
Food waste contributes 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, fuelling climate change. The article notes that food waste could double by 2050 if this trend continues.
Where does food waste happen?
Food is wasted at all levels of the food system, beginning at the farm, during harvesting, and then storing, transporting, retailing, and influencing consumer behaviour.
Inadequate technology, including poor infrastructure like roads or poor road systems, lack of cold storage, and insufficient farm equipment or machinery, can result in food losses.
Suboptimal packaging, or how foods are packaged, can also affect the length of time that they can be stored or eaten.
Poorly packaged food can spoil faster and end up in the bin quickly. However, overly packaged food, mainly from unsustainable materials, can also impact the environment.
There is a perception before that food waste happens at the consumer level in developed countries, while in developing countries, it occurs due to farming and supply chain issues. UN Environment Programme suggests otherwise and shows that food waste happens roughly at the same level in developed and developing countries.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals include calls to halve food waste and losses by 2030 for all its economic and health benefits and to help reduce GHG emissions from the energy and inputs to produce food that is wasted.
The World Resource Institute suggests ways to reduce food loss and waste at every stage of the supply chain, from individual households to restaurants, retailers, food processors and manufacturers, and governments and policymakers.
Goodwin, L. (2023, April 20). The Global Benefits of Reducing Food Loss and Waste, and How to Do It. World Resource Institute. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/insights/reducing-food-loss-and-food-waste