Food Waste is the World’s Third Biggest Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by , 09/11/13

food waste, greenhouse gas emissions, developing world, food shortage, uneaten food, landfills, agricultural techniques, carbon dioxide

A recent study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the 1.3 billion tons of food discarded around the world account for more greenhouse gas emissions than those emitted by any country except for China or the US. The study takes into account the energy, water, and chemicals used both to produce the food and to dispose of it — totaling around 3.3 billion tones of carbon dioxide each year.

food waste, greenhouse gas emissions, developing world, food shortage, uneaten food, landfills, agricultural techniques, carbon dioxideFood waste photo from Shutterstock

So why is all this food going uneaten? In industrialized nations, it tends to be due to consumers buying too much food and throwing away what they don’t eat. In developing countries, the problem isn’t that people have more food than they can eat — it’s that they lack proper food storage facilities and may practice inefficient farming techniques.

With the world population continuing to increase year after year, cutting back on food waste would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it could help prevent potential food shortages in the coming decades. The FOA’s suggestions for reducing food waste worldwide start with producers in developing nations, which could use more investment in harvesting, cooling, and packaging methods that reduce spoilage. From there, improvements to the supply chain could allow food to reach consumers more efficiently.

The proposed solutions for industrialized nations are simpler but just as wide in scope: consumers should be encouraged to eat smaller portion sizes and make better use of leftovers, while businesses could donate surplus food to charities. Finding alternatives to dumping food waste in landfills could also cut down on greenhouse emissions.

Via The Huffington Post

Lead image © jbloom

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  1. simoneyes March 27, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Is agricultural waste included as part of the ‘food waste’?

    Stems, stalks, leaves, roots, peels, rinds, husks, cores etc?

  2. Paul Skwiot September 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    One thing grocers need to do is start selling fruits and veg in open containers so the consumer can buy just what they need and not what is dictated by the industry.

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