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UN: A third of all global food wasted each year

A third of the world’s food waste is wasted every year resulting in high economic and environmental costs, according to a UN report.

The ‘Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources’ report studied the environmental impact of food wastage on climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.

It estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year is wasted, resulting at a cost of $750bn (£475bn).

Food produced but not eaten adds 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and 1.4 billion hectares of land, amounting to 28% of the world’s agricultural area, is used to produce food that is lost or wasted each year.

Particular problems include large volumes of vegetable wastage in industrialised Asia, Europe, and South and South East Asia, which causes a large carbon footprint.

Excluding Latin America, high-income regions are responsible for about 67% of all meat waste.

The carbon footprint of cereal waste such as rice, which is a major problem in Asia, was also highlighted as an issue.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a tool-kit alongside the report with recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain.

FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva said: “All of us – farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers – must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t.” 

  • The UN report coincides with the evaluation of the Waste Resource and Action Programme’s (WRAP) ‘Love food hate waste’ report, released today, which shows that reducing food waste can save West London Boroughs over £1m.

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