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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Hidden Cost of Food Waste: A £819 Billion Global Challenge

Last updated Wednesday, February 28, 2024 17:49 ET

Food waste costs £819 billion annually, impacting environment, economy, and hunger. Solutions from farm to table essential.

McLean, United States , 02/28/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

Experts have recently calculated the cost of food wastage to be around £819 billion, highlighting a significant crisis impacting our environment and economies profoundly. 30% of food produced worldwide, equivalent to 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted annually, emphasising the urgency of addressing the issue.

The problem of food wastage encompasses the supply chain, ranging from farms to consumer tables. At this level, an estimated 500 million tons of food is lost each year due to inefficient harvesting methods, crop diseases and pests. This initial loss is further exacerbated by inefficiencies in storage, transportation, processing and distribution processes that add up to 350 million tons of waste. Moreover, the cycle of waste extends beyond operations.

The United States needs help with food waste. A comprehensive study on food wastage in the nation has shed light on household-level issues where one-third of all food is wasted, amounting to billions of dollars lost. This represents a setback but also missed opportunities to combat rising levels of food insecurity over recent years.

Supermarkets, restaurants, and households play a role in throwing away food due to buying too much, storing it improperly, and needing to understand date labels. In the UK, this behaviour leads to a loss of £19 billion, showing the large economic impact of food wastage among consumers.

The effects of wasting food go beyond money. Environmentally disposing of 1.3 billion tons of food yearly creates 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, worsening warming and climate change. Moreover, this waste results in a misuse of resources like water, land, and energy needed for food production.

The social consequences are also profound. With millions experiencing food insecurity and malnutrition, the contradiction of wasting food while people go hungry presents a dilemma. Redistributing a portion of wasted food could significantly reduce hunger and enhance food access for those in need.

Dealing with food waste requires an approach. Adopting farming methods, enhancing storage and transportation systems, and investing in technology can reduce losses in production practices and improve inventory management for retailers. Accepting produce can help reduce waste.

Educating consumers about food storage, meal planning and understanding expiration dates is essential in reducing waste at home.

Some solutions include apps connecting people with food from restaurants and stores and initiatives that turn food waste into renewable energy. These approaches help combat food waste and support the economy.

Efforts to address food waste are gaining traction. In California, supermarkets must now donate edible items, reducing waste while aiding those in need. Organisations like ReFED also provide data and insights to guide the food industry towards changes benefiting the environment and society.

The fight against food waste also aligns with efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 12, focusing on sustainable consumption and production patterns. Minimising food waste is crucial for resource conservation and climate change mitigation. Ensuring food security.

As awareness of food waste increases, so does the shared responsibility to tackle it. Governments, businesses and individuals need to work to implement policies, practices and behaviours that cut down on waste along the food supply chain. Everyone plays a part in combating food wastage from production to consumption.

Individuals can also play a role in reducing food waste. Simple actions such as being mindful of portion sizes, properly storing food to extend its shelf life, and composting food scraps can make a difference. Moreover, educational initiatives and the use of technology, like MITRE's Food Waste Tracker app and GreenMatch's comprehensive guide on Food Waste, can help raise awareness and encourage responsible consumption. By understanding the scope of the problem and embracing innovative strategies, we can all contribute to a more sustainable, waste-free world.

By making changes, we can lessen the impact of our food production systems, enhance food stability, and progress towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

Original Source of the original story >> The Hidden Cost of Food Waste: A £819 Billion Global Challenge