It has been estimated that one-third of global food is lost or wasted and this comes with significant environmental, economic, and social costs.
Food waste is a major public policy issue. Consumers in industrialised countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. It has been estimated that 89 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in Europe, a figure which could rise to over 126 million tonnes by 2022 if no action is taken. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) states that every year consumers in industrialised countries waste approximately 222 million tonnes of food, which is almost as much as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa, equating to 230 million tonnes.
The UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme defines food waste as all food and drinks discarded throughout the entire food chain. These wastes are categorized as unavoidable waste; possibly avoidable waste; and avoidable waste.
Despite the hunger ravaging million in poor communities, how do people waste food along the supply chain?
This waste occurs from the farmers, especially those who don’t use the mechanized systems.
Post-harvest handling and storage:
This loss happens before the food gets to the consumer.
Some processes, in a bid to refine food, bring about waste.
From theft to expiry date and bad packaging, loss occurs.
Families during parties or any gatherings prepare more than what is needed and do not package as leftovers. This causes waste as well.
What can you do to stop the trend?
For the consumers, one major solution is the method of reduce, recover, and recycle.
The second is to buy only what is needed.
Capacity building of stakeholders consisting of a postharvest expert, socio-economist and a gender and social development specialists should be constituted at the local levels to carry out sensitisation.
Policy dialogue and formulation using recent data generated on food losses should be the basis for policy and strategy development. All key stakeholders in the development should contribute and validate policy briefs.
Retailers must assume far greater responsibility for the prevention of food waste in the home by ensuring that incentives and promotions are offered to consumers so they do not transfer waste from the store to the household. They also have a key role to play in ensuring that consumers understand dates and are not misled.
For manufacturers, packaging can be crucial for the durability of food. They have a responsibility to communicate the benefits of packaging and information about how food should be stored to avoid premature deterioration and unnecessary food waste.
There is an urgent need to take responsibility and stop this food waste because it hurts the environment. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.
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