Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Waste and resource use

Food waste is common in both developing and developed countries. Estimates of the scale of waste and loss are between 30% to 40% of all food produced. Waste loss occurs during production, distribution and at the consumer stage. In richer nations, more food is wasted at the consumer level than in poorer countries: in Europe, an average of 95 kg of food is thrown out by each consumer each year. In developing countries much produce is lost due to a lack of suitable packaging and storage facilities (so called post-harvest losses). According to the FAO, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) a year as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes). Food waste also represents a waste of all the embedded resources involved in producing it (land, water, fossil fuel inputs, agro chemicals) and in this sense is also a source of 'unnecessary' GHG emissions.

6 September 2017

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) have developed an Excel spreadsheet that can assist in calculating the nutrient value of food that is wasted. 

Figure 1: Photo credit: Pete, Project 365 #193: 120713 Ugly Fruit?, Flickr, Creative Commons Licence 2.0
29 August 2017

This paper describes an online choice experiment to understand consumer preferences around best-before dates, appearance, and packaging of food products; the paper specifically studies the demand for discounted ‘suboptimal’ products in the supermarket, and consumers’ willingness to use them in the home. 

26 May 2017

A new center has been launched as part of the wider Chatham House organisation, the Hoffman Centre (hoffmanncentre.eco). The Centre will aim to bring clarity to complex issues through trusted evidence and insightful analysis. 

Photo: Eric Elnem, Food rescued from dumpster, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
26 May 2017

This paper shows that a huge amount of nutrients is wasted each day in the US food supply, and that much of this waste includes important nutrients that are currently under-consumed in the US. It is one of the first studies to calculate the nutritional value of food wasted in the US at the retail and consumer levels, shining a light on just how much protein, fibre and other important nutrients end up in the landfill in a single year.

Photo: wxmom, 'my fridge', Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This paper reviews the current literature addressing food refrigeration from a sustainability perspective and identifies a number of large and important gaps for future research. 

25 April 2017

This policy brief, produced by the PBL – the Netherlands environmental assessment agency, investigates the integrated approach that would be needed to making the food chain more circular. In a circular food chain, raw materials are used in a way that adds the most value to the economy and causes the least harm to the environment.

Photo: Yoshihide Nomura, Fried vegetables, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
25 April 2017

This comment article in The Lancet Planetary Health emphasises that food systems research, addressing sustainability and human health, needs to combine three factors equally to inform comprehensive improvement strategies. 

Photo: jbloom, plate scraping, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic.
29 March 2017

This paper looks at how we can achieve greater food and nutrition security in a sustainable manner by reducing waste and it also analyses how losses impact overall food system efficiency.  It quantifies the food wasted throughout the food chain (10 stages) from primary production to human food consumption and also looks at the impact of livestock production on both food system biomass efficiency and feed crop losses. The paper defines wasted food energy of livestock production in terms of its poor efficiency in feed conversion ratios (ie. only some of the feed livestock consume end up as meat and dairy, with the rest loss via respiration, dung and urine). 

 
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Pesticide Spraying, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0.
15 March 2017

This Nature Plants paper by researchers from agroecological and agronomical research institutions in France used a statistical modelling approach to predict the effects of reducing pesticide use on the productivity and profitability of French arable farms.

31 January 2017

This report by WRAP provides estimates for total and avoidable household food waste for 2014 and 2015, for the UK and compares this to previous findings.

Photo credit: Randen Pederson, Wisconsin Farm, Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic
31 January 2017

In this Environmental Science and Policy article, Dennis Wichelns of the Stockholm Environment Institute argues strongly against the validity of the water-energy-food ‘nexus’ approach to researching and making environmental food policy.

Photo credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development, Women and men in northern Rwanda work on a public works site, building terraces to prevent soil erosion, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.
24 January 2017

This article by agricultural researchers in Spain reviews the historical changes in land use and soil management practices, and examines how these changes have contributed to soil erosion in the past, before presenting modelling data to show how soil erosion may impact on agricultural yields in the future.

Image credit: USDA, Kitayama Brothers, Inc. (KBI) hydroponic greenhouses, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
10 January 2017

This paper describes the operation of a bubble-insulated greenhouse system that recycles organic waste, through its anaerobic conversion into biogas and digestate, into inputs for new food. It reports that commercial crop yields were repeatedly matched and bettered, while an 80% reduction in heat energy demand and 95% reduction in CO2eq emissions was realised compared to conventional greenhouse production.

Photo credit: Dean McCoy, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 December 2016

In this article co-written by FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen, the authors use what they call a holistic approach (described below) to estimate the GHG emissions savings from preventing UK household food waste. In particular, they include the consideration of a potential rebound effect: the GHG emissions that result from money saved (because of reduced food waste) being spent elsewhere.

Photo credit: Steven Depolo, Rotting Peach Moldy, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
17 November 2016

On this episode of the World Resources Institute (WRI) podcast, Lawrence MacDonald interviews Dr Liz Goodwin, who is a WRI senior fellow and their first Director of food loss and waste.

17 November 2016

This blog on the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) website discusses their collaboration with food multinational Mars in developing science-based sustainability targets for climate, land use, and water.

4 October 2016

The EU uses more than its fair share of global land; in 2010 the amount of land needed to satisfy our consumption of agricultural goods and services was 43% greater than the land available within its boundaries. This report stresses the responsibility that the EU has to measure, monitor and reduce its global land footprint.

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