Almost 30% of the world’s agricultural land, 1.4 billion hectares, is used annually to grow or farm food that will eventually be wasted. Every time food is wasted, the land, water, labour, energy and other resources are also being wasted, and more greenhouse gases are unnecessarily released into our atmosphere.
Similarly, most of the food wasted around the world usually ends up in landfill sites. This further adds to global warming, rather than being composted and put back in the land. The amount of water that is used to produce food that is never eaten amounts to 250km³ each year – three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
Agriculture is also responsible for multiple threats to endangered species of plants and animals. Farming is destroying more and more of our natural habitats. As the global population rises, we feel the need for more agricultural space and food production – even though almost a third of the food already produced is wasted.
In developing countries, food waste and losses usually happens during the early stages of production and processing. This is usually due to inadequate equipment, storage, transportation and infrastructure. Diseases, weeds and pests also play a part in food loss during this period.
In more industrialised countries, the vast majority of food waste happens at the retail and consumer level. This is usually due to over-purchasing, expiry dates and aesthetic or quality standards. The average UK household throwing away £470 worth of food every year – and that’s just the stuff that reaches us. Now there’s some food for thought.