Food waste is one of those topics that everyone knows exists, but most don’t know how bad it is. A recent study revealed that each year, 2.5 billion tonnes of food is wasted with half of it coming from EU and US farms.
The results are much higher than the previous report that examined this same topic from 2011. In comparison, this report has found that the amount of food wasted is almost double the previous estimate.
And while it is true that we produce far more food today than one decade ago, it’s not enough to account for such a huge increase.
Where is the Food Waste Occuring?
So I know what you are thinking, who is wasting that much food?
Well, it’s not just one entity. The report states that 1.2 billion tonnes of food are lost during the agricultural process, or in other words, the farm. Obviously, not all crops survive the agricultural process for a variety of reasons.
Bad weather conditions like extreme heat or floods, insects swarms, and other factors can destroy crops.
Another 931 million metric tons of food waste is the direct result of retailers and consumers. Again, this isn’t something people are unaware of. Stores are not able to sell all of their products and consumers may buy too much.
The rest of the loss comes from other sources like the transportation process.
Overall this means about 40% of all food grown goes uneaten.
What’s the Connection Between Food Waste And Emissions?
The report has found that 10% of global emissions come from the agricultural sector. And if 40% of that is wasted, it also means that 40% of the sector’s emissions could be eliminated.
So why don’t farms and stores change?
To put it simply, they can’t, at least not without drastically changing the price of food around the world. The idea behind farming is that more is always better because there is no guarantee you will have a successful harvest.
For instance, imagine if farms decided to grow less food and extreme weather lowered the harvest yield below expectations, what happens? Well, now they can’t meet the demand, and food is a necessity. The prices are going to soar.
This can actually lead right back to the problem. After all, if food is too expensive on the shelves, that’s going to mean that stores will waste more food because they can’t sell it at a higher price point.
Is There A Solution?
The answer is kind of complicated.
There is no way that a farm can guarantee every crop will grow and survive the harvest process. That’s an unavoidable truth. Thus, to meet demand, farms need to grow more than they need.
On the side of retailers, they also can’t always sell produce fast enough, thus waste is unavoidable. Some of this is given away to food banks to help the less fortunate, but a good portion finds its way into landfills.
That said, with better analytics and farming techniques, they can certainly avoid growing an extra 40% each year.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.