The Financial Express

17 per cent of total food available globally wasted in 2019: Here’s what the UN said

| Updated: March 06, 2021 08:17:08

17 per cent of total food available globally wasted in 2019: Here’s what the UN said

Households, retailers, institutions and the hospitality industry threw almost one billion tonnes, or 17 per cent of the food available to consumers worldwide in 2019, the United Nations (UN) has said. Here is all you need to know about the wastage:

  • It is far more than previously suspected and environmentally, socially and economically costly.

  • If all the wasted food were packed into 40-ton container trucks parked end-to-end, they would circle the Earth seven times.

  • UN estimates nearly 700 million people go to bed hungry every night.

  • Up to now, food waste was seen as a rich world problem.

  • But the UN Environment Programme’s Sustainable Food Systems Programme’s report showed household food waste is a global problem.

  • Of the 121 kilos of consumer-level food thrown away each year for every person on the planet, more than half -- 74 kilos -- is disposed of by households.

  • The report covers three-quarters of humanity and 54 countries -- poor, middle-income and rich -- with good enough data to ensure robust findings.

  • It is also the first to focus exclusively on what happens to food at the consumer level, rather than food lost during production, storage, or distribution.

  • The resulting Food Waste Index is designed to help countries take the measure of the problem within their borders, which could also help curb global warming.

  • If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

  • Even as efforts to avoid food waste are scaled up, there remains the problem of what to do with whatever unused or unusable biowaste is left over.

  • The one place it should not go is landfills where it emits the powerful greenhouse gas methane and serves no productive purpose.

  • There are many alternatives to burying biowaste, including donating food that is still edible, processing it for animal feed, composting, and biogas production.

  • One technology already operating on an industrial scale in South Africa and elsewhere is the use of black soldier fly larvae to produce protein-rich animal feed.

  • Rich countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark have acted successfully on food waste.

  • Britain saw a 31 per cent drop in household food waste over 12 years, excluding inedible matter.

  • Food waste issues will be addressed at the first-ever UN World Food Systems Summit in September or October.

  • The summit will provide an opportunity to launch new actions to tackle food waste globally.

  • One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals aims to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030.

Share if you like