According to a recent study, we throw away approximately 1.3 million tonnes of food each year.
If all of this wasted food isn’t alarming enough, the figure is expected to double by 2030.
As a result, it's clear that reducing food waste is vital and that real change must be made in order to minimize the environmental impact of this wasteful behaviour.
What exactly is food waste?
According to the UN environment program, food waste is defined as “food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, but does not get consumed because it is discarded, or left to spoil or expire.”
For example, it could refer to the products that are discarded by supermarkets upon reaching their sell-by date, or the items you forget you’ve loaded into your fridge until they begin to rot or mould.
What are the environmental consequences of food waste?
While throwing items here and there may not seem to be much of an issue, it has severe environmental impacts.
Food waste prevention is now something we should all be focused on.
Excess use of plastic
Currently, 40% of plastic waste comes in the form of food and drink packaging.
As a result, generating food waste also means contributing to increased plastic waste - especially if we do not attempt to recycle the materials and, instead, throw everything into a general waste bin.
Always try to find products with eco friendly packaging material, and always ensure any waste that is suitable ends up in your recycling bin.
Water is a vital resource, particularly in the farming and meat production industries.
Studies have shown that it may take even 100 buckets of water to produce just one loaf of bread.
As such, wasting food inevitably means wasting water as well, while also increasing the demand for these sources. This another reason why food waste reduction is key.
Increased use of agricultural chemicals
Various chemicals are used during the agricultural process to facilitate healthier growth and keep weeds and pests from harming the crops.
Food waste inevitably increases the demand and use of these chemicals, despite all of their negative environmental impacts.
For example, pesticides can pollute water streams and harm marine life. They can even remain in river sediments for many years, causing long-term damage to the environment which effects us all.
Increased use of energy
Approximately 30% of global energy is consumed in the agricultural and food sector, with the majority of the energy being consumed during food transportation.
Each time we purchase food products, they have to be replaced by new ones and therefore, even more energy is used to bring them to our stores or homes.
Increased demand on landfill sites
While relatively easy to compost, most food waste ends up at landfill sites.
Not only does this place an increased demand on the already overcrowded landfill system, but during the decomposition process, food waste may then produce gasses that contribute to climate change.
What can we do to reduce food waste?
Fortunately it is not a complex issue.
Food waste is not something that we simply have to accept as a consequence of our lifestyles - as there are changes that can be made at an individual, business and institutional level to combat the issue.
As an individual, you can work to combat food waste by being more aware of your behaviours and eating habits and by trying to reduce household food waste.
Always check use-by dates and any date labels on the products you buy, and plan your meals around this so that nothing goes to waste.
This can also help you to be more mindful of your spending habits as you aren’t wasting your money alongside the food.
If you’ve found that you’ve bought too much, donate excess products to local food banks or charities.
You can also freeze products that are approaching their use-by date so that you can enjoy them later - though you should remember to label products with the date on which you froze them.
Businesses in both the public and private sector can work to reduce food waste in many ways.
For example, supermarkets and restaurants can tackle their food waste issues by donating surplus goods or products to charities, food banks and homeless shelters.
They could also make use of apps such as TooGoodToGo, where consumers can bulk-buy products that would otherwise go to waste for a lower price than their original value.
From an institutional standpoint, we can reduce food waste by working towards educating people on the real dangers behind the issue.
Regulations can also be put in place to encourage businesses to find more ethical and sustainable ways to manage their waste, as opposed to simply sending these products to landfill sites.
What is Misona doing?
We at Misona want to make a difference where we know how.
We provide products that stay fresher for longer.