Whether cooking at home or eating out, we generate a lot of food waste. The impact of food waste is not just financial. The production, processing, storage, and transportation of food that finally goes to waste also consumes valuable water and energy resources. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption every year—roughly 1.3 billion tons—is lost or wasted.
We can't keep continuing to waste as much. Throwing out food responsibly is important because “The era of never-ending cheap resources is coming to an end: access to raw materials and clean water can no longer be taken for granted.” (Horizon 2020).
The effects of food waste are broad. People think that throwing away food waste into a landfill is acceptable because it is biodegradable. But in fact food rotting is a significant source of methane emissions, which adversely affect the global climate change. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. In a report "Food wastage footprint", the U.N. states that if food waste were a country, it would be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China.
But what can we do? How to reduce the generation of food waste?
Recycle and compost food waste
Recycling and composting food waste are effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Everyone can compost at home with a little time and effort. Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of food we dispose of. Recycling is the other way we can deal responsibly with food waste. In this case, our duty is limited to dispose of the food waste into the appropriate container. When we recycle, we also save valuable resources.
Recycling and composting are effective ways to reduce already generated food waste. But we should also take effective measures to minimize the production of food waste.
Reduce Food Waste
Each of us can help to reduce food waste. Let’s buy just the food we need. Let's bring meals home that we don't eat in restaurants. Small consumer behavior changes can bring about substantial results.
Here are a few tips how to avoid wasting food:
Smart shopping: buy only the necessary, avoid overbuy
The solution to minimize food waste starts before we even get to the shop. We have to attentively plan out the meals for the week and then just buy what we need to prepare those dishes. As consumers, we can support more complete use of our fruit and vegetable resources, buying fruits and vegetables with variations in size, shape or color. A simple way to reduce food waste is to buy less food - only what we can consume before it goes bad.
Store food effectively
Storing food in the right way can help it last longer. For example, the right storage conditions in a fridge may include:
- keep fridge temperature under 5 degrees Celsius;
- avoid overcrowding food in the fridge, because air must be able to circulate to keep it cool;
- keep the food in its original packaging to keep food at its best;
- store fruit and vegetable in a bag that is lightly tied in the fridge.
For more tips about storing food effectively, visit Love Food Hate Waste – UK-based anti-food-waste campaign website.
Lots of foods are wasted in relatively small amounts but when accumulated, they have a big impact. There are many useful ways of using leftovers or other food close to its expiry date instead of throwing it in the trash. We all know that over-ripe fruit make the best juices, purees and stewed-compotes, but often we don’t benefit from them. Some of Guardian readers' tips on avoiding food waste are taking leftovers to the office on the next day rather than buying a sandwich, or cooking up odds and ends into soup. The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also encourages us to create new recipes only with the ingredients available.
Food waste, and our choice to reduce it, has a great impact on the environment. We, at CASI are enthusiastic to identify and describe innovative practices for resource efficiency and sustainable consumption. There is a variety of actions that can be taken on the micro level of a household to achieve these purposes. Let's take the challenge to reduce the food waste.
P.S. This article is a result of the joint efforts of the BPM team at TechnoLogica. Special thanks to Nadezhda Peneva.