Credit: Linda Schumacher

I’ve got two articles to share today about food waste from both sides of the Atlantic. Over in the Land of the Free™, a new paper released by the environmental action group, National Resource Defense Council,  examines the American food system that wastes 40% of all food in the country — equal to $165 billion a year. There’s a nod to some recent efforts in Europe to identify the causes and possible solutions, but the older republics have significant food waste, too. Some excerpts:

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. [A]lmost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

Nutrition is also lost in the mix — food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.…The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia, up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. This means there was once a time when we wasted far less, and we can get back there again. Doing so will ultimately require a suite of coordinated solutions, including changes in supply-chain operation, enhanced market incentives, increased public awareness and adjustments in consumer behavior.

Continue reading @ Reducing Food Waste and Losses in the U.S. Food Supply | NRDC.

 food loss chart

Towards Zero Food Waste in the EU

In Europe an estimated amount of 50% of the food produced is wasted. This changes from country to country and from sector to sector but in the best case not less than 20% of our food ends up as waste. At the same time more than 50 million of Europeans are at the risk of poverty. This is simply unacceptable from a social, economic and environmental point of view.

In Sweden, an average household is estimated to throw away 25% of food purchased. An average Danish family with 2 adults and 2 children wastes food for 1.341 € a year (2.15 billion € for the whole country). In Italy, about 20.290.767 tonnes of food waste are formed every year along the whole supply chain. Each French citizen throws away every year 7 kilos of food still in the original package when in the same country, 8 million people are at risk of poverty.

Simultaneously, studies show that western countries are consuming every day a surplus of 1400 calories per person for a total of 150 trillion calories a year. So, apart from the waste in the food supply chain, overeating is gradually becoming a serious public health issue in a growing number of countries.

From the environmental perspective food waste accounts for more than one quarter of the total consumptive use of finite and vulnerable freshwater and more than 300 million barrels of oil per year. Moreover each tonne of food waste generates 4.2 tonnes of CO2.…

Much of the food wastage can be reduced with the right prevention policies and campaigns to make sure that what would otherwise be waste can be still eaten or reintroduced in the system. Measures as simple as changing the size of the portions, supplying food in smaller packages (beware of the packaging waste), training young people in how to preserve food, etc… are part of the tool-box we need to address the problem.

Continue reading @ Towards Zero Food Waste in the EU | Zero Waste Europe