Study: Tackling food waste will cut emissions and save billions

food waste

Food waste is responsible for an astonishing 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Creative Commons: Garry Knight, 2014

Reducing food waste could reduce carbon emissions and save up to $300 billion a year by 2030, according to a new report.

The study – by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) – shows that cutting food waste could lead to greater efficiency, more productivity and high economic growth.

However, achieving such an aspiration would involve consumers cutting their own food and drink waste by as much as half, it warned.

One third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste.

Global consumer food waste currently costs more than $400 billion per year, and could rise to $600 billion as the global middle class expands over the course of the next decade.

Reducing this waste would not only save billions, but would also make a significant contribution to tackle climate change, the report argues.

It also identifies significant opportunities to improve economic performance and tackle climate change by reducing food waste in agriculture, transport, storage and consumption.

An astonishing 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – or 3.3 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent every year – is created by food waste.

WRAP estimates that by 2030 global greenhouse gas emissions could be lowered by as much as one billion tonnes of CO2eq each year through food waste reduction.

That’s more than the annual emissions of Germany.

food waste

Potential reasons for food waste from post farm to purchase. Source: New Climate Economy

Decreasing food waste would also make it more likely that an increasing population could potentially be fed by the same amount of land.

Helen Mountford, Global Programme Director for the New Climate Economy, said:

Reducing food waste is good for the economy and good for the climate. Less food water means greater efficiency, more productivity, and direct savings for consumers.

It also means more food available to feed the estimated 805 million that go to bed hungry each day. Reducing food water is also a great way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. These findings should serve as a wakeup call to policymakers around the world.

The report highlights practical solutions to preventing spoilage, including lowering the average temperatures of refrigerators or designing better packaging.

It estimates that around 25% of food waste in the developing world could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment.

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