Nearly a billion tonnes of food was wasted in 2019, most of it coming from homes, contributing to rising global emissions, according to a new UN report.
There is something the average person can do to slow climate change down, and it can be accomplished without leaving home. Don’t waste food.
Some 931 million tonnes were wasted in 2019, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Individual households were responsible for more than half of this amount, with the remainder coming from retailers and the foodservice industry.
New estimates show that around 17% of the food available to consumers around the world that year ended up wasted. The issue is even more urgent when considered alongside another UN analysis that tracks the problem higher up in the supply chain and shows that 14% of food production is lost before it reaches. The stores. Waste occurs at every point, from the field to the dinner table.
Food waste and loss are responsible for up to 10% of global emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If it were a country, this release would rank third in the ranking of global sources of greenhouse gases, after China and the United States. switching to plant-based diets.
Thursday’s UNEP report suggests the amount of food wasted by consumers could be about double the previous estimate. The analysis conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2011 was based on data from fewer countries.
The methodology has progressed and there are now data for 54 countries. This revealed that the problem is not limited to the richest countries. However, the report indicates varying degrees of confidence in domestic inputs, and there are still only 14 countries that have data on household food waste consistent with the UNEP index.
The results should further help countries set food waste reduction targets and create ways to track progress. So far, few have included waste reduction in their bids under the Paris climate agreement. Ensuring progress in tackling this source of carbon emissions will depend in part on countries adopting a common methodology.
“It comes down to direct measurement,” said Martina Otto, who heads UNEP’s cities unit. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t take the right measurements.”
Some governments are putting in place incentives and incentives to change behavior, and this goes beyond creating awareness campaigns. For example, in South Korea, waste pickers bill households based on the weight of their food waste.
“Food waste is really an area where individuals can impact their personal carbon footprint,” said Clementine O’Connor, who led UNEP’s research. “With the food you buy, the way you take care of it and consume it, this is a daily chance to have an impact on your own impact.”