Food waste: a problem not to be underestimated

food waste
Food waste: birth and growth of a problem not to be underestimated.

In the last 70 years, the food market has undergone exponential growth, we find food in large quantities everywhere: in supermarkets, bars, vending machines at the station and even our home pantries often overflow with foods of all kinds. Such a great availability of food, 70 years ago but even less, we never thought we would see it.

But are we sure that all this amount of food is positive? Of course not. As we have already reiterated several times, the food sector is capable of generating 26% of global CO2eq emissions but despite this we produce much more food than we actually consume, emitting in fact quantities of greenhouse gases for nothing!

According to FAO, 1.6 billion tons of food are wasted each year, accounting for 1/3 of global food production. At this rate, in 2030 there will be an increase to 40% by 2030 coming to waste 2.1 tons of food per year; food that could feed millions of people or be used as an alternative energy source.

Food waste is responsible for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, the dispersion of 253 Km3 of drinking water (only in agriculture). While 1.4 million hectares of arable land is used to produce food that will never be eaten (i.e. 28% of the land area allocated to agriculture), contributing significantly to the loss of biodiversity.

But what is actually the meaning of food waste? There is no real definition yet, but FAO proposes a different classification:

  • food loss, referring to waste along the first links of the chain (production, collection, storage and processing) of edible parts of plant or animal origin produced for human consumption;
  • food waste that occurs at the time of distribution at the level of consumers and traders.
How much do we consumers have an incise?

The carbon footprint of the waste generated by us consumers occupies about 22% of the total. But why do we waste so much? The causes are attributable to several reasons: misinterpretation of the wording, incorrect management of purchases, inadequate management of food, limited knowledge and lack of awareness of the economic impacts.

For once at least, Italy is among the most virtuous European countries, with an average waste per citizen lower than the European average. In 2020 there was a total cost of waste 20% lower than in 2019, equal to 10 billion euros.

Reducing waste is now an official goal that Europe has set itself for some time. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an Action Plan for the Circular Economy in order to achieve a zero-carbon economy that uses resources efficiently and remains competitive: one of the goals it has set itself is better management of municipal solid waste.

Surely many steps forward have been made but a continuous commitment is needed to improve our habits making our choices increasingly sustainable and ethical. Associazione PIÙINFORMA support all the initiatives aimed at improving the aspects related to the environment and nutrition and we hope that companies, consumers and institutions will do their part to realize the change.

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