Wasted food is not only a major environmental issue, but also a social justice issue.

As the world’s population continues to grow, it is increasingly important that we find ways to use all of the food that is produced.

Unfortunately, according to UNEP (UN Environment program), about 17% of global food production goes to waste annually.

61% of this waste is coming from households, 26% from food service and 13% from retail.

This amount of waste has a significant environmental impact, and it also means more people will be affected by the world hunger, globally.

Food waste in America

While the world wastes 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world.

According to the EPA, food waste in America totals about 63.1 million tons annually. That’s about 133 pounds per person, and it costs $218 billion a year.

Thirty to Forty percent of the total food supply in the United States goes to waste while one in six Americans are food insecure.

This means that U.S is wasting both the resources used to produce this food and the money spent on it.

A worker dumps pre-consumer food waste before being fed to black soldier fly larvae at the Enterra Feed Corporation in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, March 14, 2018. (Reuters)
Photo: Reuters

Food waste and Greenhouse gas

In addition to the economic cost, there is also an environmental cost.

food waste accounts for about 21% of methane emissions in the United States.

Methane is a harmful green house gas that absorbs infrared radiation which increases the heat of the planet and worsen the global warming.

According to WWF, In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo: epa.gov

How can we reduce food waste ?

according to UNEP, Reducing food waste at retail, food service and household level can provide multi-faceted benefits for both people and the planet but if we truly want to reduce the food waste, we need to increase efforts to measure food and inedible parts wasted at both retail and consumer level.

Only with reliable data, we are going to be able to track progress on Sustainable Development Goal, which aims at halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Photo: Elle Hughes