Around 100 million hectares of land produce food that will be wasted, in Europe alone. What is the impact on our environment and why is food waste so dangerous? In 2015 the United Nations put forward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – known as Global Goals. They aimed to end poverty, protect the planet, and bring peace and prosperity to the world by 2030. In this report, it mentions the need to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. What is the impact on our environment and why is food waste so dangerous?
There is a common misconception that food waste is not dangerous for the environment, since it is organic. In reality, food waste does more harm than we imagine. 88 million tons of food represent a waste each year in Europe.
This means a fifth of the food produced is thrown away. How is that a problem since food is considered to be recyclable? After we throw the food in the garbage, it ends up in the landfill. Here, the wasted food produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Landfills are anaerobic environments, which means that in the absence of oxygen, the waste will transform into methane gas. It is estimated that on a global scale, 7% of greenhouse gases are produced by food waste.
Although 7% is not a large figure, there must be mentioned the price we pay – 143 billion euros annually. It requires resources to manage the disposal and diversion. Per family, the cost is up to 1750$ in the USA.
Each household has a different lifestyle and therefore, a different reason to waste food. In general, there is a tendency to buy much more food than needed or cooking too much food which ends being thrown in the garbage. It has important economic implications for our Planet has limited natural resources.
Even though consumers are the ones to blame most of the time for food waste, almost 50% of the waste is produced in the pre-consumption steps. In Europe, 30% of the food waste is created in the production and processing steps.
Let’s say we got rid of an apple. That’s not so much you might think, but one single apple needs 125 liters of water. The numbers are higher when we talk about meat – 15,400 liters for one kilogram of beef. And that’s just water, take into account the transportation, the plastic used to cover it and the electricity used to refrigerate it.