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.

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.

Credit: James Bowe, Apples by the road, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
28 September 2016

This editorial article focuses on an aspect of agricultural food loss and waste, not often considered: the effects that a reduction in food loss and waste at the production stage, might have on the species that have become reliant on food waste.

Photo: Taz, Food waste. Peering into a dumpster at the GI Market, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
28 September 2016

As the global population grows and food consumption patterns shift towards more resource intensive foods, food loss and waste (FLW) is becoming a topic of increasing importance due to its impact on future food availability and - via the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in its production - on climate change.

16 September 2016

Researchers in California conducted a life cycle assessment to model the climate change mitigation potential of consuming produce grown in household vegetable gardens as opposed to those from stores.

Victor Camilo, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
8 August 2016

The DNA of Pseudocercospora fijiensis, the fungus that causes the black Sigatoka disease in bananas, has been sequenced and assembled in an attempt to find means of disease control. The black Sigatoka disease occurs across the tropics and is responsible for huge banana yield losses. In addition, it can cause the fruit to ripen prematurely, which stops exports of the crop. The Cavendish banana, the clonal type of bananas most consumers in the west eat is especially vulnerable to the black Sigatoka fungi.

24 July 2016

This paper analyses the options for and impacts of using food waste as animal feed and is the first study to compare the environmental impacts of recycling municipal food waste as animal feed with alternative disposal options in the EU.

Photo: Tony Hirtenstein, Cowslips, Worcester Pearmain tree and garden, Flickr, Creative commons licence, 2.0
24 July 2016

Permaculture is described here as a grassroots movement whose participants attempt to live in a sustainable way, taking inspiration from natural ecosystems in trying to live off the land as much as possible. The idea behind permaculture is to rely as much as possible on perennial crops, to recycle and reuse materials, and reduce waste. 

28 June 2016

The new global Food Losses and Waste FLW standard for measuring food loss and waste is the first set of international definitions and reporting requirements for businesses, governments and other organisations specifying how they should measure and manage food loss and waste, as a step towards helping countries and companies improve efforts to store, transport and consume food more efficiently.

(Photo credit: Food Science and Nutrition journal)
9 June 2016

This article discusses the interplay of food requirements, food waste, food deficits, and associated GHG emissions. It estimates the agricultural GHG emissions associated with food waste, argues the importance of reducing food waste as a contribution to addressing GHG emissions and proposes a standardized method for estimating food waste for all countries.

20 April 2016

Some of Britain’s leading supermarkets have made a pledge to reduce food and drink waste by a fifth by 2025 according to this article in The Guardian

16 February 2016

The Cambridge News reports on a recent start-up called Entomics, who are researching and developing the use of Black Soldier Fly larvae as a means of converting food waste into compounds that can be extracted and turned into more useful products.

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