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.

Image: Leslie Main Johnson, abundant harvest-local apples, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
13 February 2018

Food retailer Aldi has joined the Champions 12.3 coalition, a multi-stakeholder group aiming to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ‘halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels’ by 2030.

13 February 2018

A report by the social enterprise Circle Economy finds that today’s economy is only 9.1% circular, based on their newly launched Global Circularity Metric. To move away from the current linear economic model, the report recommends extracting fewer resources, wasting less, optimising the resources we already have and cycling more resources back into the economy.

Image: World’s Direction, Doughnuts, Flickr, Creative Commons 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
6 February 2018

The Financial Times explores several emerging trends in the global food industry, including eating insects, new retail models in China, sugar taxes, food waste monitoring and genetically modified crops and animals.

21 January 2018

This book, edited by Raimund Bleischwitz, Holger Hoff, Catalina Spataru, Ester van der Voet and Stacy D. VanDeveer, explores the concept of the ‘resource nexus’.

Photo: USDA NRCS, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
21 January 2018

This article examines global overuse of freshwater resources and how more sustainable irrigation practices could impact other environmental and developmental targets in the SDGs. It finds that the main likely effects are 1) increased food prices due to lower productivity and/or production costs as water prices increase, and 2) cropland expansion and associated extra GHG emissions of 0.87 gigatonnes of carbon.

Photo: Linda N., New crops, Flickr, CC by 2.0
12 December 2017

Targetting the food-energy-water nexus, this review by FCRN members Eugene Mohareb and Martin Heller and colleagues summarises the energy implications of various types of urban agriculture. The goal of their research is to identify resource efficiency opportunities while increasing urban food production.

28 November 2017

This new book, edited by Laura M. Pereira, Caitlin A. McElroy, Alexandra Littaye and Alexandra M. Girard, presents a diversity of collaborations between various governance actors in the management of the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus and analyses the ability of emergent governance structures to cope with the complexity of future challenges across FEW systems worldwide.

28 November 2017

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has published a report titled, ‘Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition,’ focused on Asia and the Pacific. Key messages from the report highlight that the fight against hunger is slowing, but malnutrition and stunting among children below the age of five remains high.

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.

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