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.

26 February 2020

This paper by Verma et al., with FCRN member Thom Achterbosch as co-author, estimates that consumers across the world are probably wasting over twice as much food as previously believed. The study is based on the FAOSTAT Food Balance Sheets, but goes further than the Food and Agriculture Organisation in that it factors in how consumer affluence affects food waste. It finds that once people spend more than $6.70 per day (in total, not just on food), food waste starts to rise - suggesting that consumer food waste is an issue even in lower-middle income countries, not only in wealthier countries.

24 February 2020

This book addresses food waste from a variety of perspectives, including agriculture, food science, industrial ecology, history, economics, consumer behaviour, geography, theology, planning, sociology, and environmental policy.

18 February 2020

This textbook uses case studies and models to present an interdisciplinary perspective on the interactions between food, energy and water.

18 February 2020

UK waste charity WRAP has published guidance on compostable plastic packaging, aimed at retailers and manufacturers. The guidance covers what compostable plastics are, how they might contaminate conventional plastic recycling processes, how to label them appropriately to help people dispose of them, and six applications where compostable plastic packaging is likely to be beneficial within the UK’s current waste management infrastructure.

10 February 2020

This blog post, by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto of the Breakthrough Institute (a US think tank), argues that the large scale of much American farming does not mean it is necessarily unsustainable - rather, when looking at the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use per unit of output, dramatic improvements have been seen since 1961.

10 February 2020

The SHARECITY project, based at Trinity College Dublin, has launched SHARE IT, a free toolkit to help food sharing initiatives worldwide document and communicate the impact of their activities on the sustainability of food systems. 

10 February 2020

This book outlines the latest information on how food supply chains in cities can be managed sustainably, focusing on circular economy models. 

28 January 2020

This book addresses food loss and waste from a range of perspectives, looking at key stages in the supply chain, different types of commodity and different regions in the world.

9 December 2019

This paper studies the impacts of several agricultural development projects (by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative) that aimed to tackle food loss and waste (FLW), finding that the interventions could reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food produced.

2 December 2019

This report by the Environmental Investigation Agency and NGO Greenpeace studies how UK supermarkets have taken action on plastic packaging. It finds that overall plastic packaging used by UK supermarkets has risen by 2% between 2017 and 2018, mainly driven by sales of branded products. Waitrose and Morrisons have made the most progress in reducing plastic packaging.

25 November 2019

This report by FCRN member Corné van Dooren finds that food waste per person in Dutch households has decreased by 29% between 2010 and 2019. The findings are based on measurements of waste from a sample of households. 

25 November 2019

This report from the World Resources Institute outlines ten “scaling interventions” that could increase both the rate and geographic spread of initiatives to cut food loss and food waste, to support a target of halving worldwide food loss and waste by 2030. 

11 November 2019

The 2019 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations focuses on actions to reduce food loss and food waste. It sets out guidance for how policymakers can tailor food waste initiatives to suit their policy aims.

22 October 2019

This report from the Food Ethics Council sets out how UK food businesses and government could learn from the Danish food system. Although Denmark and the UK have similarities, e.g. in climate, Denmark ranked 7th in the 2018 Food Sustainability Index while the UK ranked 24th. 

22 October 2019

This paper outlines the main sustainability challenges linked to nitrogen, including inadequate access to nitrogen fertiliser in some parts of the world and excessive fertiliser application in other areas, leading to water pollution, algal blooms and risks to human health. The paper argues that solving nitrogen problems would have co-benefits for other sustainability issues such as hunger, air, soil and water quality, climate and biodiversity.

9 October 2019

This book presents case studies and guidance on extracting high-value compounds from waste and by-products from foods such as dairy, meat, sweet potato, cereals and olive oil.

2 October 2019

This report from the UK charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) provides the latest estimates for food losses and food waste in primary production (i.e. on farms) in the UK. It finds that 3% of food harvested is wasted at the farm stage (sent to waste treatment such as composting without first being used for another purpose, or left in the field) and 4% is surplus (material intended for food uses that ends up being redistributed to people, fed to animals or used for other purposes), making a total of 7%.

2 October 2019

This report from the Food and Land Use Coalition proposes ten critical transitions that could enable the food system to provide healthy diets for nine billion people by 2050 while also protecting the climate and biodiversity. The transitions are estimated to provide over 15 times more social benefit than their investment cost, which is likely to be less than 0.5% of global GDP.

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