Food waste has environmental downside

Food waste has environmental downside

Far too much of the food produced goes to waste. This is not just a waste of resources – it is also something that has a needless detrimental effect on the environment. It is particularly the consumer who is responsible, but waste is also an issue in other parts of the food chain.

The production of an average Danish diet emits 1684 kg CO2-equivalents per person per year, and about 13.5% of this is from food waste, primarily in households. By reducing this waste, the burden can be considerably eased. This is the conclusion of a report prepared by scientists from Aarhus University for the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries which has just been published by DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture at Aarhus University. The report focuses on food waste (fish excepted) in the part of the food chain that includes primary food production, the retail sector and commercial kitchens.

One of the reasons why it is a good idea to be concerned about food waste is because of the environmental impact associated with food consumption, say the authors of the report. The report therefore contains a listing of the carbon footprints of the individual food groups.

Beef is responsible for 28% of the greenhouse gas emissions related to production and is thus the largest culprit. The impact on climate of beef waste alone is 62 kg CO2 per person per year, which is just as much as the emissions from production of all vegetables eaten per person per year. And the impact of food wasted in households is twice as large as the combined impact of the food waste in the retail sector and the processing industry.

One of the methods that can be used to lessen the environmental impact from food consumption is obviously to reduce food waste. The report outlines a number of initiatives undertaken in different countries and in different parts of the food chain.

Food waste in households is largely due to ignorance. Information campaigns are important to make consumers aware of the problem. Many people do not connect food waste with environmental issues. And many people do not believe they have a particular problem with food waste, the scientists write.
Source: Aarhus University