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World wastes $750 billion worth of food each year

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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A United Nations report has said that the wasting of 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year is causing significant damage to the environment.

The report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources found that $750 billion (£472 billion) worth of food is wasted worldwide annually.

It is the first study to analyse the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, according to the UN, as it looks at the consequences for the climate, waste, land use and biodiversity.

One of the key findings of the report is that food that is not eaten contributes 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere.

While 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is almost 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.

UN director general of the food and agriculture organisation José Graziano da Silva said: “All of us – farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers – must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and reuse or recycle it where we can’t.

“We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, where 870 million people go hungry every day.”

The report shows specific features of food waste with Asia seeing major impacts on carbon emissions, water and land use from wastage of rice.

Fruit wastage contributes to water waste in Asia, Latin America and Europe, while vegetable waste means a large carbon footprint impact for the industrialised parts of Asia, Europe, and South and South East Asia.

Apart from Latin America, high-income regions are responsible for about 67 per cent of all meat waste.   

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