The world wasted about 931 million metric tons of meals in 2019 — a mean of 121 kilograms per individual. That’s about 17 % of all meals that was accessible to customers that yr, a brand new United Nations report estimates.
“Throwing away meals de facto means throwing away the sources that went into its manufacturing,” mentioned Martina Otto, who leads the U.N. Atmosphere Program’s work on cities, throughout a information convention. “If meals waste leads to landfills, it doesn’t feed individuals, but it surely does feed local weather change.”
Some 690 million individuals are impacted by starvation every year, and over 3 billion individuals can’t afford a nutritious diet. In the meantime, misplaced and wasted meals accounts for 8 to 10 % of world greenhouse gasoline emissions. Lowering meals waste might ease each of these issues, in line with the Meals Waste Index Report 2021 printed March 4 by the U.N. Atmosphere Program and WRAP, an environmental charity primarily based in the UK.
Researchers analyzed meals waste knowledge from 54 international locations. Most waste — 61 % — got here from houses. Meals companies reminiscent of eating places accounted for 26 % of world meals waste whereas shops reminiscent of supermarkets contributed simply 13 %. Surprisingly, meals waste was a considerable drawback for practically all international locations no matter their earnings stage, the group discovered. “We thought waste was predominantly an issue in wealthy international locations,” Otto mentioned.
Whereas the report is essentially the most complete evaluation of world meals waste so far, a number of data gaps stay. The 54 international locations account for simply 75 % of the world’s inhabitants, and solely 23 international locations offered waste estimates for his or her meals service or retail sectors. The researchers accounted for these gaps by extrapolating values for the remainder of the world from international locations that did monitor these knowledge. The report doesn’t differentiate between doubtlessly edible wasted meals and inedible waste reminiscent of eggshells or bones.
Otto recommends that international locations start addressing meals waste by integrating discount into their local weather methods and COVID-19 restoration plans. “Meals waste has been largely neglected in nationwide local weather methods,” Otto mentioned. “We all know what to do, and we are able to take motion shortly — collectively and individually.”