We’ve previously discussed the Positive Environmental Events Of 2022 and the Biggest Environmental Issues of 2022, but food waste is a bigger part of both of these than you might think. In the midst of our fight to reduce food waste, it’s important to keep our feet on the ground by having a realistic outlook on just how much we have to continue making a change.
In 2022, a third of the food produced with human consumption in mind ended up wasted. Sadly, not only does this affect the planet but it affects our livelihood, too. 3 billion people could be fed with the amount of food we discarded in 2022. To help you visualize, if food waste were a country, it would be 3rd in the world for contributing the highest greenhouse gas emissions, right behind China and the US. For a singular factor to be contributing to greenhouse gas emissions at this scale is extremely abnormal and alarming.
Photo Credit: Karsten Wurth
Though we typically only view food waste as something that makes our own lives slightly inconvenient, the damage of food waste goes beyond being a hassle to get rid of. Food waste differs in occurrence when it comes to developing and developed countries. In developing countries like India, Indonesia and Iran, approximately 40% of food waste occurs at the post-harvest and processing levels. Food that is wasted at this stage is called “food loss”. The post-harvest stage includes the cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing of food. Food loss at this stage occurs due to spoiling, quality loss, nutritional loss, commercial loss and seed viability loss*.
In developed countries like North America, Japan and Australia, 40% of food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels. At the retail level, a massive reason why food loss occurs boils down to its aesthetic. For instance, in the US, up to 50% of produce is thrown away because it’s deemed “too ugly” to be sold. This 50% equates to about 60 million tons of fruits and vegetables.
*Seed viability is the measure of seeds that are able to germinate/develop.
Photo Credit: Photo-Boards Unsplash
Just like with anything else, there has to be a significant global effort in order to alleviate the problem of food waste. No matter who we are, we’re affected by food waste - be it directly or indirectly. Because of this, whether you’re a corporation or an individual or a farmer, and in the private or governmental sector, everyone needs to do their part for the greater good.
At a larger scale, there needs to be an increase in both research and effort put into food development, harvesting, processing and storage. As consumers, we have to keep ourselves up to date and informed about the rapidly growing sources of information so we can take the right actions. There also needs to be a significantly lower emphasis put on the aesthetics of food.
While it’s unavoidable that some foods will be unfit for consumption, these foods can be composted, recycled and used for feeding livestock. If you’d like to reduce the food waste you create within your household, Reencle is an indoor compost machine that can repurpose up to 1kg of food waste a day by turning it into nutrient-rich compost. Sign up here to get an exclusive promo code on your Reencle order today.