Approximately 931 million tonnes of household, restaurant and other services were disposed of food or 17% of the total amount of food available to consumers worldwide in 2019, without being consumed, according to a new study by United Nations scientists.
According to the data, 61% of the discarded food came from households, 26% from various food services and 13% from restaurants.
It is estimated that, per capita worldwide, one person flies to trash every year 121 kilos of food, with 74 kilos of them being thrown away by the household sector. In Greece, the waste seems to be higher than the global average, since it is estimated that per capita, annually, 142 kg of disposable food that is not consumed is thrown away by Greek households., as well, another seven kilos per head each year from the catering sector (although the available data for our country are considered rather mediocre reliability).
The research emphasizes that so far the extent of waste has been underestimated and that this is a global problem – now – and not only of the richest countries, as you might guess. In middle- and low-income countries, too, an unexpectedly large amount of food ends up in the trash, according to the Athens News Agency. The amount of fresh and processed food thrown away corresponds to 23 million 40-tonne heavy-duty trucks, enough – if they came in one after the other – to circle the Earth seven times.
The new United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) “Food Waste Index Report 2021” is the most comprehensive assessment of the disposal of unused food in the trash. It reveals that in almost every country, regardless of national income, there is a problem of food waste. The main “culprits” are households that throw away almost 11% of the total food available or 569 million tonnes, followed by various food services (5% or 244 million tonnes) and restaurants and other restaurants (2% or 118 million tonnes).
This waste on a global scale has – in addition to the socio-economic impact – an environmental dimension, as in the midst of climate change about 8% to 10% of global “greenhouse gas” emissions are related to food that is not consumed.
With about 690 million people suffering from hunger in 2019, a number that is expected to increase significantly this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also with three billion people not being able to afford a healthy diet, the study points out that consumers need to drastically reduce the food they throw away, especially at their home.