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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

16 February 2016

The FAO announce the launch of their new initiative: The Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste.

18 January 2016

This report by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future highlights the need to reduce livestock farming and food waste if climate change is to be addressed, and the relative absence of these important mitigation strategies from recent climate talks (e.g. COP21 in Paris).

17 December 2015

This FAO brief on food waste discusses the carbon footprint of global food waste and so called embedded emissions in avoidable food waste. In order to measure the avoidable emissions it is necessary to know how much of what kind of food is wasted and where.

17 December 2015

This paper entitled Creating When You Have Less: The Impact of Resource Scarcity on Product Use Creativity, argues that resource scarcity actually translates into enhanced consumer product-use creativity.

16 November 2015

This paper presents an overview of policies and interventions aimed at addressing food loss and waste. It argues that to curtail food waste in higher income countries, measures such as clarifying food date labels could go a long way. Consumers are often confused by "use by," "best by" and "sell by" dates on food packaging and throw out perfectly edible food. Improving date labelling policy can also improve food safety.

9 November 2015

Surveys show that 300 kg of edible food is wasted per person each year in Switzerland. This paper focuses on one of the foods that are wasted – potatoes – and assesses the quantity and quality of potato losses along the entire supply chain.  It finds that on the way from field to fork, more than half of the potato harvest is lost.

9 November 2015

This report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) aims to inform decision-making that focuses on reducing impacts on natural capital.