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Benefits of Reducing Food Waste – Part 4

Many people want to help the environment but aren’t sure where to begin. If you’re wondering how to have an impact in your daily life, why not look close to home – with the food you buy and, more to the point, the food you waste?

Reducing the amount of food we send to the waste stream is an easy act that’s good for the planet and climate, and is a way to directly save you money. Reducing food loss and waste generates benefits for economies, for businesses and consumers, for human health and for the environment.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of reducing food waste, both for your family and future generations.

Improved global nutrition and food security

Reducing food loss and waste can play a big role in providing a healthy, nutritious diet to a growing global population. Not only does one third of all food produced by volume go uneaten, but perishable foods with higher nutritional value, such as fruit and vegetables, are particularly prone to loss and waste: More than 40% of produce by weight is lost or wasted worldwide each year. Ensuring more of the global food supply is used to feed people, rather than perishing or ending up in landfills, is an important strategy for addressing hunger in a world where hundreds of millions still face malnutrition.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

Project Drawdown has listed reducing food loss and waste as the single-best strategy for reducing emissions and fighting the climate crisis. Because up to 10% of global emissions result from food loss and waste, it’s simply not possible to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal to stay within 1.5-2 degrees C (2.7-3.6 degrees F) of warming without tackling this issue.

Emissions from food loss and waste result from the energy and inputs used to produce food that’s ultimately not consumed, as well as the methane that’s emitted when food rots in fields or landfills. Although shorter lived than carbon dioxide, methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas with over 80 times the warming power of CO2. By reducing food loss and waste, we avoid its associated planet-warming emissions.

Improving existing food systems will also help the world feed more people without expanding cultivated areas. Agricultural expansion is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions and often results in deforestation, which releases stored carbon dioxide and lowers the land’s carbon storage capacity. In addition, increasing the efficiency of food production could potentially liberate agricultural land for reforestation, an important way to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Financial savings for businesses and consumers

Reducing consumer food waste by even 20%-25% by 2030 could save the world an estimated $120-$300 billion per year. These savings play out on an individual level as well as a systemic one; by consuming more of what they purchase, households can reduce their overall spending on food. Eliminating avoidable food waste would save the average family in the United Kingdom more than £700 ($870) each year, while in the United States, the average family would save approximately $1,800.

With food and energy prices at an all-time high, reducing costs through food waste mitigation can benefit all stakeholders within the food system.

Reducing food waste can reduce costs in:

·         Production

·         Supply chain

·         Retail

·         Food service

·         Consumer

·         Recalls

In essence, extra shelf-life days give people more time to use food and avoid it going to waste. 

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