By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
A report of 2021 has noted that food waste has substantial environmental, social and economic impact.
For example, at a time when climate action is still lagging, 8-10 per cent of global greenhouse emissions are associated with food that is not consumed, when losses before consumer level are taken into consideration, according to the report.
The Food Waste Index Report 2021, from United Nations Environmental Programme (UN) and partner organization, WRAP, looked at food waste that occurred in retail outlets, restaurants, homes – counting both food and inedible parts like bones and shells.
On 4th March 2021, UNEP wrote in a statement reflecting the outcome of the report that 17 per cent of all food available at consumer levels is wasted.
According to UNEP, 931 million tonnes of food sold to households, retailers, restaurants and other food services were wasted in year 2019.
“Study finds food waste is a global, not just developed world, problem,” the UN agency explained, noting that Food Waste Index Report helps countries track progress on UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030
“An estimated 931 million tonnes of food, or 17% of total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants and other food services, according to the new UN research conducted to support global efforts to halve food waste by 2030.
“The weight roughly equals that of 23 million fully loaded 40-tonne trucks — bumper-to-bumper, enough to circle the Earth 7 times,” UNEP elaborated.
The global authority on the environment pointed out thatthe report presents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date, and offers a methodology for countries to measure food waste.
The research identified 152 food waste data points in 54 countries, and found that in nearly every country that has measured food waste, it was substantial, regardless of income level.
“It shows that most of this waste comes from households, which discard 11% of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain.
“Food services and retail outlets waste 5% and 2% respectively.
“On a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households,” the report clarified.
The study also included regional and national per capita estimates.
“Reducing food waste would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste. The UN Food Systems Summit this year will provide an opportunity to launch bold new actions to tackle food waste globally.”
UNEP said that with 690 million people affected by hunger in 2019, a number expected to rise sharply with COVID-19, and three billion people unable to afford a healthy diet, consumers need help to reduce food waste at home.
It advised that countries can raise climate ambition by including food waste in Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, while strengthening food security and cutting costs to households.
It advocated that food waste prevention should also be made a primary area for inclusion in COVID-19 recovery strategies.
“For a long time, it was assumed that food waste in the home was a significant problem only in developed countries,” said Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP. “With the publication of the Food Waste Index report, we see that things are not so clear cut.
“With only 9 years to go, we will not achieve SDG 12 Target 3 if we do not significantly increase investment in tackling food waste in the home globally. This must be a priority for governments, international organisations, businesses and philanthropic foundations.”
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 12.3 aims at halving per-capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains.