Nearly 931 mn tonnes of food wasted in 2019 globally: UN report

at 2:23 pm
food waste
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New Delhi (NVI): An estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers worldwide at households, restaurants and other food services went wasted in 2019, according to a UN report.

The Food Waste Index Report 2021 showed that around 931 million tonnes of food, or 17 per cent of total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants and other food services.

The report, produced jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WRAP was conducted to support global efforts to halve food waste by 2030.

This food waste weight roughly equals that of 23 million fully loaded 40-tonne trucks, enough to circle the earth seven times.

The UN report looked at food waste that occurs in retail outlets, restaurants and homes – counting both food and inedible parts like bones and shells.  It marks the most comprehensive food waste data collection and analysis to date, with 152 food waste data points mapped across 54 countries worldwide.

Notably, the report stated that regardless of income level, every country produces substantial food waste, which shows that most of this waste comes from households, which discard 11 per cent of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain.

This translates to an average of 74 kilograms of food waste happening in homes on a global per capita level.

On the other hand, food services and retail outlets were responsible for food waste of 5 per cent and 2 per respectively, UNEP said in a statement.

The report also informed that food waste has substantial environmental, social and economic impacts. “At a time when climate action is still lagging, 8 per cent -10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed, when losses before consumer level are taken into account,” it added.

“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.

The UN report further noted that with 690 million people affected by hunger in 2019, an estimate number expected to rise sharply with COVID-19, and 3 billion people unable to afford a healthy diet, consumers need help to reduce food waste at home.

It said 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.

This makes food waste prevention also 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.

Gover added that, “With only nine 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, organisations, businesses and philanthropic foundations.”

The 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, the UNEP statement added.