UNEP: Food Waste Fuels Climate Change, Nature Loss

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published the Food Waste Index Report 2024, ahead of the International Day of Zero Waste on 30 March. Co-authored with UK-based charity Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the report provides global estimates on food waste at retail and consumer levels, as well as guidance on improving data collection and best practices in moving from measuring to reducing food waste. Building on UNEP’s 2021 report, this year’s one showed that households across all continents wasted over one billion meals a day in 2022, while 783 million people were affected by hunger and a third of humanity faced food insecurity. Overall, 1.05 billion tonnes of food waste were generated in 2022 – amounting to 132kg per capita and almost one-fifth of all food available to consumers – of which 60% happened at the household level, with food services responsible for 28% and retail 12%. Food waste also continued to hurt the global economy and fuel climate change, nature loss, and pollution, the report stated. “Food waste is a global tragedy,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Not only is this a major development issue, but the impacts of such unnecessary waste are causing substantial costs to the climate and nature. The good news is we know if countries prioritise this issue, they can significantly reverse food loss and waste, reduce climate impacts and economic losses, and accelerate progress on global goals.” Only four G20 countries – Australia, Japan, the UK and the US – and the EU were deemed to have food waste estimates suitable for tracking progress to 2030. Canada and Saudi Arabia had suitable household estimates, while Brazil’s estimate was expected later this year. “The data confirms that food waste is not just a ‘rich country’ problem, with levels of household food waste differing in observed average levels for high-income, upper-middle, and lower-middle income countries by just 7kg per capita,” the report read.

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