Food Waste - Intro
Food waste and loss (FLW) is one of the problems that I’ve been interested in recently. However, I haven’t done any proper research other than reading a few books and watching some YouTube videos. So I decided to do some research and write some posts to help me understand the problem. This post is an introduction to a series of posts that I’ll be writing.
Why Food Waste?
The world is producing more food than it needs, which is simply an enormous waste of resources. There are two perspectives to look at the food waste problem1.
- The food problem: While some people are still starving, a significant amount of food is wasted throughout the entire supply chain.
- The waste problem: It’s not only the food that’s wasted. FLW represents a waste of land, water, labor, and energy used during food production2. According to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste is one of the most impactful solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions3.
Facts & Statistics
The followings are some interesting facts and statistics that I found.
- Around 14% of food produced is lost between harvest and retail4.
- 17% of total food production is wasted - 11% in households, 5% in the food service and 2% in retail 4. I know the numbers don’t add up, but don’t blame me. I just copy-pasted the numbers from the reference 😅.
- Food loss and waste account for 38% of total energy usage in the global food system4.
- The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8% to 10% of global emissions5.
- In 2019, the U.S. wasted $408 billion worth of food, which is about 2% of U.S GDP, with a greenhouse gas footprint equivalent to 4% of total U.S. emissions6.
What I’m Interested In
There are some well-established public datasets available online. Honestly, I don’t have any domain knowledge so I’ll probably write some posts to do data exploratory data analysis (EDA) of the datasets.
Here are the datasets that I found today.
- Food Loss and Waste Database from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
- What a Waste Global Database from World Bank.
- Database for UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021 from United Nations Environment Programme.
- ReFED Food Waste Monitor Database from ReFED
Businesses and Technologies
Many businesses/start-ups are trying to solve the FLW problem. I believe there is plenty of room for innovations throughout the supply chain: from harvest to retail and consumption. I’m planning to find out who’s doing what in this industry.
If you are interested in FLW, I strongly recommend watching this YouTube video from our beloved Our Changing Climate.
Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems. A Report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. HLPE Report 8 ↩
WHAT A WASTE 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 ↩
International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, UN ↩ ↩2 ↩3
United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Food Waste Index Report 2021. Nairobi. ↩
Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50% and the ReFED Insights Engine: At-A-Glance ↩
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