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.

3 September 2015

This paper reviewed data from six national studies to quantify food waste within the EU and its associated loss of water and nitrogen resources in the EU as well as the uncertainties of these values.

3 September 2015

This study is the first to quantify the relationship between human population growth and energy use on an international scale. It explains how global population growth has begun, in the past 50 years, to catch up with energy consumption for the first time in 500 years.  Until that point, each generation had produced more energy per person than its predecessor, which allowed for an increase in Earth's carrying capacity and in the number of people it could sustain at equilibrium.

16 July 2015

This report summarises research from scientific, policy and industrial experiences on energy use in the EU food sector. It acknowledges that while the EU has made progress in incorporating renewable energy across the economy, the share of renewables in the food system remains relatively small. The report discusses the way ahead and highlights the main challenges to be faced in decreasing energy use and in increasing the renewable energy share in the food sector.

18 June 2015

In this interview in Policy Innovations, Tristram Stuart describes the rationale behind the organization he has founded called FeedBack, which tackles food waste across the supply chain, globally, "from plant to plate." In particular he discusses the campaign The Pig Idea and the idea of recycling food waste as feed for pigs.

18 June 2015

This report summarises food waste research conducted by the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), University of Manchester, and its implications for a transition towards a sustainable food system.

12 June 2015

A large proportion of supermarket food is thrown away every day regardless of quality, to avoid legal liability if a customer complains. In France, the government has now taken a firm step to incentivise food donation by removing the liability from the supermarkets. By barring stores from spoiling and throwing away food the government aims to tackle waste alongside food poverty. The measure follows a decision from February 2015 to remove the best-before dates on fresh foods and it is part of a wider drive to halve the amount of food waste in France by 2025. The bill will also ban supermarkets from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten and the law will also introduce an education programme about food waste in schools and businesses.

8 May 2015

This paper, co-authored by FCRN member Christian Reynolds, investigates the economic and environmental efficiency of charities and NGOs that divert and redistribute wasted but edible food. Through a case study of food rescue organizations in Australia, the authors show that food rescue operations generate approximately six kilograms of food waste per tonne of food rescued, at a cost of US$222 per tonne of food rescued. This is lower than purchasing edible, non-food waste food at market-cost. Secondly, for every US dollar spent on food rescue, edible food to the value of US$5.71 (1863 calories) was rescued.

8 May 2015

This paper provides the first estimate of energy and material flows in the world’s 27 megacities (cities with over 10 million inhabitants). These megacities are home to 6.7 per cent of the world's population, but consume 9.3 per cent of global electricity and produce 12.6 per cent of global waste. The authors establish statistical relations for energy use, transport, water use, waste and so forth and factors such as average temperature, urban form, level and type of economic activity, and population growth.  This allows the researchers to evaluate which cities have high versus low levels of consumption and which ones make efficient use of resources.

26 March 2015


This book By Nora McKeon fills a gap in the literature by setting food security in the context of evolving global food governance.

Today’s food system generates hunger alongside of food waste, burgeoning health problems, massive greenhouse gas emissions. Applying food system analysis to review how the international community has addressed food issues since World War II, this book proceeds to explain how actors link up in corporate global food chains and in the local food systems that feed most of the world’s population.

26 March 2015

WRAP - the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme has published a new report entitled 'Strategies to achieve economic and environmental gains by reducing food waste', which argues that reducing food waste worldwide can make a significant contribution to tackling climate change while also saving money. Wrap puts the total value of global consumer food waste at more than US$400 billion per year. The report says that globally as much as £194bn could be saved by reducing food waste by 2030.

3 December 2014

WRAP has just published an assessment of how food waste levels have changed historically in the UK, and the potential impact of a range of ‘exogenous’ factors (such as population growth) and interventions (such as voluntary agreements with the food industry and campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste) on food waste levels in the future (to 2025).

26 November 2014

In recent years, food waste has risen to the top of the political and public agenda, yet until now there has been no scholarly analysis applied to the topic as a complement and counter-balance to campaigning and activist approaches.

26 November 2014

To examine what the concept of the green economy means in practice for European countries, and to evaluate their progress in achieving such a transition, in 2012 the European Environment Agency (EEA) initiated a new series of environmental indicator reports. The first two reports in the series focused on green economy and the European environment, addressing resource efficiency and resilience and the links between European resource demand, environmental degradation and changes in human wellbeing.

23 October 2014

British families throw away about seven million tonnes of food and drink every year, enough to fill Wembley stadium to the brim. While most of this food has gone past its sell-by date, in this article Michael Mosley talks to a food safety expert to find how much of it could still safely be eaten.  There is some useful information on when it is ok to scrap mould off food and eat it, and where it is not.

Read the full article here.

15 October 2014

The following two reports deal with food waste costs and mitigation. The first report focuses on costs and introduces a methodology that allows for full-cost accounting (FCA) of the food waste footprint, including costs associated with the environmental impacts of food waste. The FCA framework incorporates market based evaluations of the direct financial costs, non-market valuation of lost ecosystem goods and services and well-being valuation to assess the social costs associated with natural resource degradation.

15 October 2014

Following the publication of Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012 report in November 2014 and the Product Focused report earlier this year, WRAP has now released a new report that is more People Focused

15 September 2014

This paper looks at the environmental costs of food production and consumption. It offers an updated account of the GHG emissions associated with production of U.S. food losses at the retail/institution and consumer level and also considers the effects of a shift in diets away from current US consumption patterns towards those recommended by USDA dietary guidelines.