UNITED NATIONS: The Food Waste Index Report 2021, conducted by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with WRAP, a British nonprofit that works to reduce global waste, found that 931 million metric tons (1.03 billion tons) of food were wasted by households, retailers and restaurants throughout the year.
About 17% of food produced and sold around the globe in 2019 ended up in waste bins, according to a new United Nations report.
The amount would be sufficient to load 23 million food trucks, which if lined up bumper-to-bumper, would be enough to circle the planet seven times, it said. Some food is also lost on farms and in supply chains, indicating that overall a third of food is never eaten.
The study represents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling ever done, and offers a methodology for countries to accurately measure loss.
“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”, Inger Andersen,
Although food waste had been thought of as a problem mostly affecting rich countries, the report found levels of waste were surprisingly similar in all nations, though data is scarce in the poorest countries.
The study reveals that households discard 11 per cent of food at the consumption stage of the supply chain, while food services and retail outlets waste five and two per cent, respectively.
This has substantial environmental, social and economic impacts, according to the report, which points out that eight to ten per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with unconsumed food.
“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 Ms Andersen.
In 2019, some 690 million people were impacted by hunger and three billion were unable to afford a healthy diet.