Food waste context

When we talk about global food waste, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the numbers! Yet we know that, behind these numbers, are people:

  • People and their access to healthy food.
  • People and their access to healthy food.
  • People with a passion for more sustainable natural resource use.
  • People whose only daily meal comes from the surplus of others.
  • And people who waste.

Although we know that wasting food makes no sense ethically, environmentally, and sometimes economically why is it that at least one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted?
Ethically, we must ask the question: Why is it that around 800 million people go hungry every day in a world of plenty?
Why is it that 55 million people in Europe are not able to afford a quality meal every second day?

The reason the numbers of hungry people are on the increase is not because we do not produce enough food.

If only one-fourth of the food wasted globally was consumed, it would be sufficient to feed 870 million people, 12% of the world’s current population. More people than are currently hungry.

In Europe, according to the latest estimates by the FUSION[1] project, around 88 million tons of food are wasted annually, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion. Economically, food waste represents high waste management costs and, simply, money wasted given the considerable amount of edible food thrown away every year in the EU. Waste management costs include the maintenance of landfills, where food waste is most often disposed of, as well as transport costs, the operating cost of treatment plants, and separation costs in some cases.

We also know the significant environmental aspect of wasted food. If food loss and waste were its own country it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the USA and China.


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