Food Waste : International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

food waste trash can compost
© Nick Saltmarsh

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tons and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day. The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on September 29th is an opportunity to call to action both the public and the private sector, to prioritise actions and move ahead with innovation to reduce food loss and waste towards restoring and building back better and resilient-ready, food systems.

A recent WWF report estimates the extent of global losses in agriculture at 1.2 billion tonnes per year. In the field alone, this results in monetary losses worth more than 315 million euros annually. The climate impact of food wasted in the agricultural sector amounts to four percent of global man-made emissions, according to the study. In addition, there is high land consumption for arable land, which often goes hand in hand with the destruction of valuable natural areas.

"Precious resources such as energy, water and arable land are used for the production of this carelessly discarded food. In times of climate crisis, we cannot afford to burden the planet so unnecessarily - this massive waste along the value chain must be stopped," demands Olivia Herzog, food waste expert of WWF Austria, referring to one million tonnes of avoidable food waste that end up in the rubbish every year in Austria alone. WWF as is calling for binding action plans by the national governments.

Key messages by the FAO

The FAO, pointing at the urgent need to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste, has formulated six key messages for the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

There is never room for food loss and waste!

Reducing food loss and waste, provides a powerful means to strengthen the sustainability of our food systems and improve planetary health.

Increasing the efficiency of our food systems and reducing food loss and waste, necessitates investment in innovation, technologies and infrastructure.

Recovery and redistribution make good use of surplus food and contribute to improving access to food for the food insecure, preventing food waste and ensuring economic, environmental and social benefits.

Diverting food waste to composting is better than sending it to a landfill, but preventing food from being wasted in the first place is an even better way to lessen the impact on the environment.

Realising and maximising the positive impacts of reducing food loss and waste, requires good governance and human capital development, as well as collaboration and partnerships.