One third of food produced globally is wasted; that is 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is never eaten.
We might not realise how much of a problem food waste is because we are blind to its effects.
When we throw our food into the bin we don’t see the harmful greenhouse gases it is going to release in the landfill. We also don’t see the fuel and resources that went into producing the food or see the people around the world who are hungry. All we see is an apple in the bin.
There are other costs to food waste.
Wasting food is bad for the environment
When food ends up in landfill, it decomposes without oxygen, and as a result, it releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon emissions behind China and the United States.
The more food that we waste, the more food we need to produce. This constant need to produce more puts additional pressure on the environment.
For example, 25 million acres of land are deforested each year in order to grow food. This is happening despite the fact that we are actually producing enough food to feed the world.
Wasting food wastes precious resources
Food is wasted at all stages of the supply chain – from the farm to the fork. In developing countries, most of these losses occur in the early stages such as production and transportation. In developed countries, most food wastage occurs by consumers after purchase.
When we waste food, all of the resources that went into growing and making it go to waste.
– 25% of all fresh water consumed each year is used to produce food that goes to waste
– 300 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce food that goes to waste
Wasting food doesn’t feed the hungry
Isn’t it appalling to think that we waste food when one in nine people do not have enough food to eat! Every year 3.1 million children under five die from poor nutrition.
While hunger is a problem that’s hard to fix, we owe it to those who are starving to respect the food that we have access to.
Don’t despair, things are happening
Love Food Hate Waste is aiming to reduce the amount of food that New Zealand households are throwing away.
In addition to our efforts, there are many different things happening around the world to reduce food waste.
- In France it is now illegal for supermarkets to throw away edible food. Instead they must donate it to charities and groups, who will supply it those who need it.
- The United States has announced a goal to reduce its food waste by 50% by 2030.
- A programme in South Korea has been implemented where people have to pay to dispose of their food waste, thus encouraging people to only waste what is absolutely necessary. The collected food is then turned into animal feed, fertilizer or burned to generate electricity.
- Love Food Hate Waste began in the United Kingdom in 2007 and was the first major campaign to tackle food waste. It has been successful in achieving an 18% reduction in household food waste. The campaign is also being run in Vancouver, New South Wales and Victoria.