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: Louise.ward, Blue Apron meal kit, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
8 May 2019

This paper calculates the environmental impacts (climate change, acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use) caused by either making a meal by using a meal kit (which contains pre-portioned ingredients for cooking a meal) or by buying the ingredients from a grocery store.

29 April 2019

Free-range eggs in the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana are contaminated with some of the highest levels ever measured (in eggs) of certain toxic substances due to the illegal dumping of electronic waste from Europe, according to this report from Swedish non-profit IPEN and US non-profit Basel Action Network.

Image: Lorrie Graham/AusAID, The site of secondary mining of Phosphate rock in Nauru, 2007, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
29 April 2019

This paper maps the potential for different subnational, national, or regional areas to reduce their agricultural dependence on imported phosphorus fertiliser by recycling manure or urban waste (including both human excreta and household and industrial wastes).

17 April 2019

FCRN member Tom Quested of resource efficiency organisation WRAP Global recommends the REFRESH Community of Experts, which is an online platform to find and share information (such as best practices) on food waste prevention.

17 April 2019

This policy briefing from EU food waste research project REFRESH outlines policy options for reducing food waste at the consumer level, based on both desktop research and a survey of households in four countries.

Image: Pixnio, Hen poultry bird, Public domain
16 April 2019

This paper traces mass, energy flows and emissions in the beef, poultry and pork supply chains in Germany (including all emissions from the animal production stages, and emissions from energy use at subsequent stages). It outlines the potential of different strategies to reduce consumption-based emissions. It finds that the greatest emissions reductions could come from dietary change, i.e. replacing some meat consumption with consumption of soybeans and nuts, or replacing some meat consumption with offal consumption.

8 April 2019

This policy briefing from EU food waste research project REFRESH outlines how ‘Voluntary Agreements’ between stakeholders throughout the supply chain can be used to reduce food waste, and makes policy suggestions to favour the creation of such agreements.

Image: Mercedes, Crunchy Romaine Lettuce, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
1 April 2019

This blog post in Foodprint (part of US food advocacy group GRACE Communications) explores how food safety scares and recalls can cause food waste. In addition to the disposal of contaminated food items, other items of the same type are often disposed of to be sure of removing all affected items. New supply chain traceability technologies could reduce the amount of food disposed of during recalls.

Image: MD-Terraristik, larvae of the black soldier fly, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
1 April 2019

This paper provides an assessment of the environmental impacts of converting waste streams from the food industry into products such as fertiliser, pet food, livestock feed or feed additives using the larvae of Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly.

Image: Pxhere, Dish produce plate, CC0 Public Domain
26 March 2019

In this paper, FCRN members Christian Reynolds and Tom Quested review the effectiveness of different consumption-stage measures to reduce food waste. Examples of successful interventions include serving food on smaller plates (which can reduce food waste by up to 57%) and changing school nutritional guidelines (which reduced waste of vegetables by 28% because fewer students selected vegetables and those who did select vegetables ate more of them).

20 March 2019

This report from the UK’s Sustainable Restaurant Association reviews the current state of sustainability in the UK food service sector. The three main challenges it identifies are reducing the amount of meat on menus, reducing food waste, and using less single-use plastic packaging.

26 February 2019

This booklet, by FCRN member Imke de Boer, sets out the scientific basis for the 2018 Mansholt lecture by Louise Fresco, President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board. The lecture discussed how the concept of circularity can be applied to agricultural production.

29 January 2019

This report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlines three ways in which cities can promote a circular food economy: source food grown regeneratively and (when appropriate) locally; reduce waste and use by-products; and design and market healthier food.

15 January 2019

The UK government has set out a waste and resources strategy for England, aiming to eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 and promote a circular economy. Proposed measures include taxing plastic that contains less than 30% recycled material and providing food waste collection to all householders and relevant businesses.

10 December 2018

The World Resources Institute has published a new report outlining solutions for feeding 10 billion people without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation or exacerbating poverty.

3 December 2018

This book, edited by Charis Galanakis, describes many different aspects of saving food and food security throughout the supply chain, including raising awareness, redistribution, policy, food conservation, cold chain, supply chain management, and waste reduction and recovery.

Image: liz west, cranberries, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 November 2018

This piece in the New Food Economy explores why the US cranberry industry has collectively agreed to destroy one quarter of its harvest, but will not ask any farmers to scale back production. A surplus of cranberries on the market means that prices are being driven below the cost of production. The agreement to destroy a portion of the harvest means that prices will rise again. Unlike other industries, which are regulated by antitrust laws, farmers are allowed to make collective agreements such as this under the Capper–Volstead Act.

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