Food Waste Totaling 1 Billion Tons Ends Up In Landfills

Food waste on a global scale adds up to nearly 1.3 billion tons ending up in landfills and costing close to $1 trillion. Aside from the fact that food waste is causing serious economic and environmental concerns, some people view the act of wasting food as unethical and immoral.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), every year, the world loses or wastes at least one-third of the world’s food supply. With more than seven billion people on this planet and 870 million people not getting enough food to eat, just one-fourth of food waste and losses could go as far as to stop world hunger.

Homeless People Scavenging
Homeless people scavenge for food on a rubbish tip near Moscow, Russia. The homeless wait each day for the garbage trucks coming from Moscow to unload their daily collections. A spell of Arctic weather, which has chilled the vast country, has frozen at least 27 Muscovites to death since January 1, Itar-Tass news agency said (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

A recent study by Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) based in the United Kingdom claims global food waste totals nearly one-third of the food supply, costing about $400 billion each year. With the world population expanding exponentially, within 10 years the economic loss could be close to $600 billion.

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Richard Swannell, WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems, cites that food waste is a priority and has become a global issue. He recognizes the complexity of knowing where to begin to make the largest environmental and economic savings.

According to WRAP-reported estimates, the United States’ food waste totals close to $1.5 billion, whereas the United Kingdom cost of food waste is nearly $450 million each year.

Russians Scavenge For Something To Eat
Homeless Russians scavenge for something to eat. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

The New Climate Economy global program director Helen Mountford offered her thoughts to EcoWatch about lessening the amount of food waste. Mountford claims food waste reduction is actually an economic benefit and good for the climate. Aside from consumer savings, reducing food waste means more food is available for people in need.

Helen also states greenhouse gas emission can be reduced if food waste is reduced, since food that is disposed of in landfills emit methane gas, which is detrimental to global climate.

Wasting food reduces the amount available in markets around the world. As the food supply decreases, the demand increases, resulting in higher costs making the consumables unaffordable to millions of less fortunate, malnourished, and starving people.

South Koreans Burn U.S. Beef
A dump truck unloads as workers check through products made from U.S imported beef in front of trash burner in Incheon, South Korea. A South Korean food company that used U.S beef incinerated 600 tons of product. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Food waste also squanders precious land and water resources, which are necessary for growth and production. The global population is expected to reach nine billion people by the year 2050.

In order to meet the global demand, food production will have to double. It has come to a critical point where everyone needs to become more aware and do more to reduce and prevent food waste.

[Featured image courtesy of Mario Tama/Getty Images]