EU Food waste/Energy waste.

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food-waste

According to the United Nations food and agriculture organisation, food waste is a global issue that sees a third of global food production lost or wasted annually. This is as the global population is set to rise to over 95. Billion by 2050. This is inevitably going to put a massive pressure on the world’s food system.

Food that go uneaten or discarded is referred to as food waste or in some cases, food loss. There are various causes of food waste or loss and they occur at the various stages of food system (production, processing, retailing and consumption). Global figures on food waste shows that each year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is wasted. This includes about “45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat”.

EU food waste.

The European Union throws away 89 million tonnes of food and the United Kingdom is one of the worst offenders. A House of Lords commissioned inquiry into the cost of food waste across the EU expects the figure to rise to around 126 million tonnes by 2020 if there is no significant action taken. This will have a tremendous impact on the environment, economy and society. From the inquiry, food waste across the EU-27 was broken down into 4 sectors. The household had the highest share of food waste at 42%. This is followed by food/drink manufacturing with 39%, food service/hospitality at 14% and retail/wholesale at 5%.

Between the big UK grocery market (accounting for around 87%) such as M&S, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Co-operative food, they were responsible for the disposal of around 200,000 tonnes of food in 2013 alone. These supermarkets contribution of 1.3% in the UK in 2013 add up to the overall 5% retail and wholesale sector waste in the EU. On the other hand, the biggest contributor to the EU food waste is the household. Some of the waste generated are as a result of unnecessary strict sell-by dates, promotions (buy one get one free), cosmetically perfect food and poor storage of food.

All the food waste equal to waste of energy that was used to produce them. These energy come in the form of water to grow crops, land nutrients and fuel for chemicals production and powering farming machines. According to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, they report that “about 550 billion cubic meters of water is wasted globally in growing crops that never reach consumer.” The production of meat increases the use of water as it takes 20-50 times more water to produce 1 kilogram of meat than 1 kilogram of vegetables.

Legislation against food waste.

In Europe, some countries are taking steps to combat food waste.

Under a set of laws brought in by the French government to crack down on food waste, French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Instead, they will be donated to charities or used for animal feed. Supermarkets are barred from deliberately disposing and spoiling of unsold food. They are to sign contracts with charity to give unsold food or face fines and years in jail. This move by the government is a way of tackling one of the contributions of waste in the country but they also have to reduce the household food waste with a proper campaign.

The move by the French parliament to combat food waste has also led to pressure on the UK government to introduce legislation to restrict supermarkets from sending tonnes of unsold food to landfill sites.

Some of the key proponents of tackling food waste are charities and people of the commons that are putting pressure on governments to implement laws to combat food waste as they have a great impact on the world and the resources used to produce food worldwide.

Resources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/uk-tops-chart-of-eu-food-waste
  2. http://www.edie.net/news/5/Supermarket-food-waste–Combined-figures-revealed-for-first-time/
  3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/the-obscure-reason-why-supermarkets-are-allowed-to-send-food-waste-to-landfill-a6861196.html
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/10/half-world-food-waste
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/france-to-force-big-supermarkets-to-give-away-unsold-food-to-charity
  6. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/eu-sub-com-d/food-waste-prevention/154.pdf
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2015/aug/12/produced-but-never-eaten-a-visual-guide-to-food-waste
  8. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/food-waste
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