Around the world, roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted from farm to table, amounting to around 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Covid-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in our food systems and heightened the need to remedy food loss and waste (FLW), both locally and globally.
Reducing food loss and waste is a powerful means to strengthen the sustainability of our food systems and improve planetary health. How does food waste affect the environment? A great deal, it turns out. In the United States, more than 35 million tons of food went into landfills in 2018. Food waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Keeping food waste out of landfills is one way to help the environment.
September 29 is the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, an opportunity to raise awareness of practices and innovations to reduce food loss and waste and build a more resilient food system. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) delivered six key messages highlighting areas to catalyze change towards reduced food loss and waste. Here are some of those messages:
- Increasing the efficiency of our food systems and reducing food loss and waste requires investment in innovation, technologies, and infrastructure.
- Recovery and redistribution of surplus food improves access to food for the food insecure, while preventing food waste and ensuring economic, environmental, and social benefits.
- Composting food waste is better than sending it to a landfill but preventing food waste in the first place is an even better way to lessen the impact on the environment.
- Realizing and maximizing the positive impacts of reducing food loss and waste, requires good governance and human capital development, as well as collaboration and partnerships.
Ultimately, turning these messages into policies and practices locally and globally is the only way to ensure that we build a sustainable and resilient food system that has no room for food waste.
Read more blogs on the topic of food loss and waste.