Food Waste

How much food do we waste?

In Ireland, according to the EPA’s Stop Food Waste programme, we generate over 1 million tonnes of food waste annually ­ this includes householders, commercial businesses and food producers. At the same time about 15% of the population experience some type of food poverty and for those on low incomes this figure rises to 35%.  In the EU we generate 89 million tonnes of food waste annually. Through out the global food system at least 30% of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted and this amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year.

How does food waste happen?

Issues with supply chain inefficiencies, stock management, packaging and storage, climatic conditions, safety rules, quality standards, cosmetic imperfections and consumer behaviour are all contributing factors.

Why do we care?

Food waste is a mismanagement of natural resources

This animation, created for us by the fantastic Alexis-Francois Morand, breaks things down quite well.

  • Wasted food accounts for more than a quarter of total freshwater consumption globally.
  • If trees were planted on the land currently used to grow surplus food, we could theoretically offset a maximum of 50-100% of the worlds green house gas emissions.
  • Wasting food is not only an inefficient use of ecosystem services but also a wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides and fossil fuel-based resources. It has been estimated that the production of wasted food in the USA requires 300 million barrels of oil.
  • Food waste generates about 170 Mt of CO2 eq. in the EU each year approximately 3 percent of total EU emissions.

Food waste is money waste

  • Food is expensive to grow, buy, transport, process, store, cook and dispose of. The economic impact of throwing food away ultimately affects all the organizations and individuals involved in the supply chain, including the final consumer.
  • In Ireland, a third of the food bought in the supermarket is thrown in the bin, costing each household more than €1,000 a year.

Wasting food while people go hungry raises moral questions

  • In Ireland, 1 Mt of food waste is generated annually while about 15 per cent of the population experience some type of food poverty and for those on low incomes this figure rises to 35 per cent.
  • It has been estimated that all the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.