UN – Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 25, 2013

“The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report.  is the first study to analyze the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity. Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere. And beyond its environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually, FAO’s report estimates…As a companion to its new study, FAO has also published a comprehensive “tool-kit” that contains recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain. The tool-kit profiles a number of projects around the world that show how national and local governments, farmers, businesses, and individual consumers can take steps to tackle the problem…UNEP and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint campaign that was launched earlier in the year and whose aim is to assist in coordinating worldwide efforts to manage down wastage. Fifty-four percent of the world’s food wastage occurs “upstream” during production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to FAO’s study. Forty-six percent of it happens “downstream,” at the processing, distribution and consumption stages. As a general trend, developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher in middle- and high-income regions — where it accounts for 31-39 percent of total wastage — than in low-income regions (4-16 percent). The later a food product is lost along the chain, the greater the environmental consequences, FAO’s report notes, since the environmental costs incurred during processing, transport, storage and cooking must be added to the initial production costs.”

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