1.3 billion tonnes —the amount of food produced and wasted globally per year. The 1.3 billion tonnes of food represent one third of the food produced worldwide . Yet, how can we explain such an absurd number when it’s estimated that nearly700 million people suffer from hunger? There are two main reasons: food loss and food waste. Food loss occurs during harvest, slaughter and fishing, while food waste occurs at the retail and consumption level.
This is a huge global challenge. In a report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world, major organizations, including UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, have expressed their concern over achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 when North America is responsible for 16% of the world’s total losses. Canada is therefore part of the problem. According to RECYC-QUÉBEC, “58% of food is thrown away along the food chain, from the farm to the fork.” The pandemic hasn’t helped; Canadian households threw out 14% more food at home. This is baffling considering over half of the food wasted at home is still fit for consumption.
Apart from the financial and food security aspect, food loss and waste have disastrous consequences for the environment. Wasting food amounts to wasting many natural resources (water, soil, seeds), logistical resources (storage, transport) and human resources. On top of everything else, if this unused food isn’t composted it will end up in landfills and release methane, and consequently greenhouse gases, when it decomposes. This isn’t the case when organic matter decomposes in nature where oxygen is present. This is why thethe landfill of organic waste should be banned in Quebec by 2022. This would produce more biogas and avoid the emission of 5.9 million tonnes of CO2, or about 1.5 million cars travelling 20 000 km per year, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
Reducing food loss and waste must therefore be seen as a way to address multiple issues. While it’s difficult to reduce food loss as a citizen, there are some simple things we can do to reduce food waste at home. Better managing our food purchases and storage, using foods that are close to their best-before date, learning how to use what we believe to be food waste, sharing food we know we won’t eat, and composting are only a few things we can do. To learn more, read our Zero Waste Tips and make a difference in this fight.