United Nations Environment Programme along with WRAP released the Food Waste Index Report 2021 and glaringly about 17% of total food available to consumers in 2019 was thrown and wasted.
Most of the food that is wasted comes from the household (61%), followed by food service & restaurants (26%) and retail (13%). As per the report, the average per capita food wastage globally is 121 kg.
The report collected data from 54 countries. Against the common perception that most of the food is waste comes from rich & developed countries, the report reveals Nigeria & Rwanda as the 2 biggest culprits for food wastage.
Stop Food Wastage, if not for yourself but for the planet
There is a lot that happens behind the scene to the food that comes to your homes.
- The farmer nurturing those crops, using power for irrigation and harvesting.
- The gallons of water required for cultivation
- The transportation to transfer the product from the farmlands and logistics for storage.
- The packaging, the retail space, and the final delivery
Hence, it is not just the food that is lost because of wastage, all the resources that were used to bring the food to your table i.e. land, water, electricity, labor, fuel, packaging, and money also is wasted.
In addition, food waste goes to landfills producing methane & other harmful greenhouse gases. The plastic packaging which is used for transportation & retail goes to cause marine pollution.
An estimated 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed (waste and loss), a similar amount to road transportation.
Solutions to food waste problems for Retailers and Food Service
For retail stores, innovative technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can be used to better predict the demand & supply of the food items which sit on their shelves. We had earlier written an article on how some companies are effectively leveraging mobile apps and digital technologies for the same.
Here is another idea on leveraging technology to make most of the food items which are lying at the grocery stores.
Another option for restaurant owners & people in the food service business is to donate excess food. There are a number of NGOs that are working relentlessly to help the needy get the food that is likely to be wasted. One such NGO is Robin Hood Army, the model that the NGO adopts is ‘hyperlocal’ in nature. The restaurants having excess food, hand it over to the Robin Hood team. The team then distribute the food collected to orphanages, the homeless, among others.
Solutions to food waste problems for Household consumers
For the consumers, in some regions of the world, companies have started mobile apps for which are working in the food wastage space.
Here is a video on some simple solutions to avoid food wastage at an individual’s capacity.
Solutions exist, it is a matter of leveraging them.
Please comment if you come across more solutions