Reducing food waste 'could save £194bn'

Press Association
Food waste cut 'could save £194bn'
Food waste cut 'could save £194bn'

Reducing food waste could save the global economy up to 300 billion US dollars (£194 billion) a year, but this would require as much as a 50% reduction by consumers, according to a UK report.

One third of all food produced in the world ends up as waste, while the value of global consumer food waste is more than 400 billion dollars (£259 billion) per year.

But that cost could increase to 600 billion dollars (£388 billion) as the global middle class expands over the course of the decade, according to new figures from Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme) for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

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It said cutting avoidable food waste could save between 120 billion dollars (£77 billion) and 300 billion dollars a year with the help of a correlating 20% to 50% cut by consumers, and lead to a lowering of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by at least 0.2 billion and possibly as much as one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030.

The report also claims that practical changes such as lowering the average temperatures of refrigerators or designing better packaging could make "a considerable difference" in preventing spoilage, and suggests that approximately 25% of food waste in the developing world "could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment".

Previous Wrap figures show that UK households threw away seven million tonnes of food waste in 2012, enough to fill London's Wembley Stadium nine times over.

'A global issue'

Avoidable household food waste in the UK is associated with 17 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions produced by one in four cars.

Wrap's director of sustainable food systems Dr Richard Swannell said: "Food waste is a global issue and tackling it is a priority.

"This report emphasises the benefits that can be obtained for businesses, consumers and the environment. The difficulty is often in knowing where to start and how to make the biggest economic and environmental savings.

"Consumers also have a role to play. In the United Kingdom, where we are based, the majority of food waste occurs in the home.

"Through our consumer campaign Love Food Hate Waste we empower consumers with advice and tips on how to waste less and save more. Between 2007 and 2012, this helped householders reduce avoidable food waste by 21%, saving a total of £13 billion."

Helen Mountford, global programme director for the Global Commission's flagship programme New Climate Economy, said: "Reducing food waste is good for the economy and good for the climate. Less food waste means greater efficiency, more productivity and direct savings for consumers.

"It also means more food available to feed the estimated 805 million that go to bed hungry each day.

"Reducing food waste is also a great way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. These findings should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers around the world."


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